The Telangana government has been caught unawares by the High Court’s order proscribing immersion of Ganesha idols made of plaster of Paris in Hussain Sagar Lake in Hyderabad on the grounds that it would lead to pollution. The order was issued just a day ahead of Ganesh Chaturthi. This has already set in motion the nine-day nimajjan festivities that climax on September 19. This time, about one lakh idols of various sizes—the tallest is Khairatabad’s 40 feet-high Vinayaka—are present in mandapams.
The government grew jittery due to the difficulty in implementing the order as any attempt to prevent immersion would ruffle Hindu sentiments, which KCR can ill-afford as he is already being criticised by some as biased towards the minorities. Also, there is no time to make alternative arrangements for the immersion of big plaster of Paris idols. The 25 baby ponds created in Hyderabad for the immersion of idols would be of no use as they lack the depth needed. Peeved over by the High Court rejection of its review appeal, the state government has now approached the Supreme Court with a Special Leave Petition.
To be fair, the High Court was only trying to uphold laws that protect lakes from pollution, but by giving practically no time to the state government to make alternative arrangements, it is, in fact, allowing the inevitable to happen—immersion of the plaster of Paris idols by the devotees as the state cannot do anything about it at this hour. The state too has remained lenient even though there was a growing concern over the pollution of the water body. In 2013 itself, the then AP High Court had imposed restrictions on the immersion of idols. And the Central Pollution Control Board banned the practice of immersion of plaster of Paris idols in 2020. Perhaps the best way to protect the lake and also the tradition of immersion could have been to allow it this year, for one last time. After the festivities end, the creation of as many ponds as are necessary for the immersion of idols of all sizes can be done under court supervision.