BENGALURU: It seems like this year too, the state will not be able to completely ban Ganesha idols made out of Plaster of Paris (PoP) and according to officials, politicians across party lines are to blame for it. Speaking to The New Indian Express, Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) officials said that some political leaders and their associates had threatened officials not to take action against those who have paid hefty amounts to order PoP idols under patronage from politicians.
“We have been getting many representations from politicians and influential people not to ban PoP idols. They have come up with the suggestion that large PoP idols will be returned back to the supplier or manufacturer. But we know the religious sentiments and traditions and this will not work. Some also threatened staffers with dire consequences if they are restricted from using PoP idols,” a KSPCB official said, on condition of anonymity.
Explaining the need for politicians to seek out these environmentally harmful idols, the official further explained. “Competitions are held among politicians in the districts to see who has the best idol. As clay idols have a size restriction, they want larger PoP idols.”
On Friday, KSPCB Chairman and Chikkaballapur MLA, D Sudhakar admitted that it would be difficult to attain the goal of a total ban on PoP idols and said that in Bengaluru, the board was looking at a 80-85% success rate. “We are optimistic but to attain 100% success, awareness is essential,” he said.
He admitted that ensuring a ban in border areas of Karnataka will be a challenge. “Discussions with district administrations and police in north Canara, Hubballi, Dharwad and Belagavi have been held to ban PoP idols,” Sudhakar said.
n KSPCB has held a meeting with BBMP, Bescom, BWSSB, Police and the Fire and Emergency Services, deciding not to give permission for keeping community idols incase they are made of PoP. A meeting is also being held to decide on the number of days community idols can be housed. “There are no restrictions on the height of the idols. Makers have opined that clay idols cannot be more than 5 feet. But if idols they can make taller clay idols, they are welcome,” Sudhakar said.
n For immersion, 32 kalyanis and 100 mobile vans will be available for people. Ten GPS enabled cultural vehicles will be stationed in select places telling people the history and environmental significance of the festival.
n In seven days, BBMP and KSPCB seized 168 PoP idols. But did not impose the announced Rs 10,000 penalty. The officials are sending all seized idols to sand making units.