Ban releasing drinking water for Ganeshotsav immersions: NGT

Pune (Maharashtra), Sep 22 (IANS) The National Green Tribunal here has issued notices to various departments of the Maharashtra government in an EIL to ban releasing drinking water from dams for Lord Ganesha idols’ immersion, an activist said here on Tuesday.

The notices have been issued to the state government, collector, Pune Municipal Commissioner, irrigation department, police commissioner, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board and others whose officials have been directed to remain present before the National Green Tribunal (NGT), Western Zone Bench, on Thursday in the matter.

The Environment Interest Litigation (EIL) has been filed by Shivani D. Kulkarni, a legal practitioner, referring to the plans of the concerned authorities to release water from the Khadakwasla Dam for immersion of Lord Ganesha idols on the fifth and 10th day of the ongoing Ganeshotsav.

She has contended that in view of the severe drought situation in large parts of the district and Maharashtra, no discharge of water from the dam, meant for drinking purposes, should be permitted for immersions.

“Instead, we have asked that the people should make use of the artificial immersion sites created by the authorities for the religious activities. This will not only prevent wastage of scarce drinking water in such critical times, but also prove to be eco-friendly as most idols are not made of eco-friendly materials,” the petitioner’s lawyer Asim Sarode told IANS.

Kulkarni further contended that there should be a ban on immersion of any idol in any natural/artificial sources like rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, canals, pools, wells, etc. It must be allowed only at the designated artificial immersion sites created for the purpose.

The matter is more serious in view of the dying rivers in Pune and the steep decline in the storage levels of various dams and reservoirs which could create a war-like water shortage situation affecting general public, agriculture, industry and animals at large.

In Pune, for the two main days of immersions — the fifth day and the last day of Ganeshotsav (falling next Sunday)– around 0.1 tmc water, equivalent to four days’ supply for the entire Pune city, is released per day.

Once this water is released from Khadakwasla Dam, it gets heavily polluted by the idols made of plaster of paris and other non-biodegradable materials and hence rendered unfit for any other purpose. So saving that water is the only solution, the petitioner contended.

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