BENGALURU: Eco-friendly Ganesha idols have been around for a few years, as people slowly started to take the fact that plaster of Paris (PoP) idols are destroying the country's water bodies.
Clay, seed-ball and coconut husk idols are some of the green idols available in the market today, and the response from citizens on switching to these eco-friendly idols was positive this year, say some of the makers/suppliers of these whom City Express spoke to.
Official data from the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Pallike shows that there has been a close to 90-95% of Ganeshas immersed this year were made of clay. On the first day of immersions (August 25), data shows that out of the total 2,08,585 idols, only 12,077 were made of PoP (5.78%).
On August 27, which was a Sunday and is usually the day that sees the most number of immersions (fifth day of immersions), BBMP records show a total of 1,35,594, out of which 4,257 were made of PoP (5.78%). Most idols were immersed at Ulsoor Lake on that day - 28,513 in total with 4,257 made of PoP, followed by 26,500 idols immersed in the south zone, with 500 of them being PoP ones.
Drastic drop in PoP idolsover the years
Ramprasad, convenor of the informal, city-based group Friends of Lakes, agrees that there has been a steep fall in the number of PoP Ganeshas this year. "Last year, the numbers pointed to 60% mud idols and 40% PoP idols. This year, 80-90% idols were made of clay. However, the most number of clay idols are found in homes, the larger ones that are used in mandals and procession, are still made of PoP," he says.
BBMP records from 2016 indicate that 70% of the idols were clay ones. For example, in the East zone, out of 38,000 idols, 30,000 were clay; and in the West zone, out of 73,926 idols, 56,926 were clay. In 2015, pan-Bengaluru data says that on the first day of immersions, 1,28,620 idols were submerged - 61,620 clay and 67,000 PoP. The sharp rise in use of clay idols began last year, and city has bettered its record this year.
According to Ramprasad, on the fifth day of immersions, Ulsoor Lake saw the most number of PoP Ganeshas being submerged - possibly because of the proximity to Pottery Town (a settlement of artisans) where PoP idols are being sold secretly, he says, adding that only after the three remaining days of the festival will we have a clearer picture.
Puroshotam Venkatraman, president, RWA, Halasuru Lake, also says that there has been a drastic fall in the number of PoP idols. "The awareness programmes our RWA has conducted have paid off, 90-95% of the time mud idols being used. BBMP workers have been coming every morning for cleaning up the area as well," he says.
Similarly, Puroshottam N of KR Puram Rising (Mahadevpura zone) says, "I was there throughout the immersion process on the first day, and have been involved in issues pertaining to the lakes for the last 3-4 years. This year, 90% of the idols were made of mud. We have conducted awareness programmes at the santhes here, and even taught residents how to make mud idols."
Jagdish Reddy of Varthur Rising says that while he didn't see a 'drastic' change from last year, as the idols over 3-1/2 feet are still being made of PoP, the number of immersion sites has been reduced. "Last year, there were 5-6 immersion spots, this has been reduced to 1-2 this year - which is definitely a positive sign," says Reddy.
Wet waste, noise pollution still a nuisance
Venkatraman says that while Bengaluru is taking to ‘green’ idols, noise pollution from the various processions that go on till late hours everyday is a nuisance. “It is deafening. Windows and doors in our homes vibrate well past midnight with over 400 decibels of blasting music. There are drums in these and at least 20 speakers mounted on each lorry,” he says.
After 8pm, drunk men can be found at these processions around Ulsoor Lake. “The cops don’t do anything about this. When I reported this nuisance, they replied, ‘So what? It’s festival time’.
According to the rules, this shouldn’t be allowed after 10-10.30pm, but years have passed and nothing has been done,” says Venkatraman. He adds that traffic also slows down when the cops cordon off roads for these processions.
KR Puram resident Puroshottam says that another issue is that of the accumulation of massive amounts of wet waste and the decrease in lake depth from BBMP’s failure to clean up excess clay after immersions. In fact, in addition to the 4,000-plus tonnes of garbage in the city each day, on the first day of celebrations, 311-337 (additional) tonnes per day (TPD) were recorded, while on the fifth day, data showed 89.31-95.31 TPD.
However, Ramprasad contradicts this by saying that there has also been a decline in the amount of additional waste this year, and that the garbage contractor’s strike that the city witnessed earlier this week was why we might’ve noticed an increase in waste.
Steps towards a 100% green Ganesh Chaturthi?
Dr. Lakshmikanth, state member, awareness, KSPCB, says that awareness drives have been conducted in over 60 spots across the state to make people switch to eco-friendly idols. "As part of our awareness programmes, we have provided clay and employed artisans to promote and spread the message of an eco-friendly Ganesh Chaturthi. We have targeted educational institutes, as children can influence their parents," he says.
Agreeing with this sentiment, Ramprasad says that while penalties and stringent permission rules should be put in place for manufacturers of PoP idols and organisers of processions, awareness alone is the best way forward. "Permissions are given easily for constructing mandals to avoid communal clashes, but BBMP should ensure that the permission application is more detailed from next year on. Also, penalties for the manufacturers should be in place," he says.
Talking about additional waste, Dr Lakshmikanth says that the BBMP was asked to put up two bins at every immersion spot for wet and dry waste, but this hasn't been implemented yet.
Mapping the dip
Out of the 21,200 idols immersed at a kalyani in Ulsoor Lake (which falls under the east zone), 2,600 were PoP (12%)
Out of the 48,000 idols immersed at Yediyur Lake (south zone), 8,000 were PoP (16%).
Sankey Tank (west zone) saw 648 PoP idols out of a total of 35,000 (1.85%); 1.7% idols were PoP in Dasarahalli
0.56% in Bommanahalli
0.7% in Yelahanka
0.9% in RR Nagara