VIJAYAWADA: All efforts by government agencies -- Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC), AP Pollution Control Board (APPCB) and police -- and even some NGOs to promote use of clay Ganesha idols failed to have the desired impact as no reduction in pollution levels was witnessed in the water bodies where the idols were immersed.
Samples collected by the APPCB after Vinayaka Chavithi celebrations this year, recorded nearly the same readings as those in the previous year.
Speaking to TNIE, APPCB senior environmental scientist K Srinivas said, “We expected some differences in pollution levels due to the efforts put in by government officials and NGOs in spreading awareness about the need for using clay idols during festivals. Unfortunately, the end result was almost the same.”
“Some of the readings, which were lower than last year, were still more than what is set by the Central Pollution Control Board,” he said. Presence of chromium, lead, zinc and copper in a water body determines its pollution level.
According to CPCB norms, chromium and lead should be completely absent from water bodies, and the annual measurement for zinc and copper should be 1 pollutant particulate matter (ppm) and 5 ppm, respectively. “Pollution levels in rivers and lakes during Ganesh and Dasara festivals are the highest. The samples collected from Krishna Eastern main canal, near VMC office, in September 2018 had recorded 0.028 mg/L of zinc. The sample collected this year recorded 0.035 mg /L of zinc,” informed Srinivas.
Three of the five canals used for idol immersion witnessed an increase in pollution levels after Ganesh Puja celebrations this year.“The numbers and comparisons may look small to the common man but harm the water bodies. Chromium, lead, copper cannot be detected as they are present in minute quantities, which do not have harmful effects. These particles are in such small quantity that determining or treating them is very difficult and their accumulation over a period of time harms aquatic life,” added Srinivas.
Apart from polluted water bodies, Ganesh festivities also resulted in an increase of air and noise pollution. “The ambient air quality (AAQ) readings recorded from all the nine stations (continuous ambient air quality monitoring (CAAQM) stations) measured more than the permitted average levels. The highest levels of noise recorded were 86.2 decibels (dB) during the day, as against the permitted 75 dB, and 78.3 dB in the night, as against the permitted 65 dB. Silent zones also recorded noise levels much higher than the permitted 40 dB,” explained Srinivas.
From the readings, it is safe to say that the rigorous efforts by government officials failed to yield the desired results. “Merely asking people to switch to clay idols is not enough. We need a situation in which at least 80 per cent of the population takes our awareness campaigns seriously and switch to clay idols. Also, people need to stop using loudspeakers and bursting crackers,’’ Srinivas said.