By Team Mangalorean
Mangalore/Bangalore/Mumbai, Aug 29, 2008: Even as the country prepares to celebrate the Vinayaka Chathurti on September 3, there are serious concerns raised about the environmental issues specially the safety of the water bodies where the idols of Ganesha will be immersed after the festival.
The simple reason behind this concern is that the paints used in decorating the clay idols have certain percentage of heavy metals in them and it causes water pollution and could be deadly for the people who use the water and also to the organisms in the water.
According to the report of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, made available exclusively for Mangalorean.com, the paints used in the idol making includes heavy metals like arsenic, lead, mercury mainly and some other minor pollutants. These pollutants could be found in colours like Red (Arsenic), Yellow (lead), Silver (mercury) and Green(zinc) When combined or individually these become a potent poison.
The report further says in many parts of the country the idols are immersed in the sweet water sources. These sources become un-potable for considerable time, but people do use it without knowing the repercussions and get into health problems. Sustained use of the polluted water can cause life threatening disorders.
Ganesha idols displayed for sale
A scene of Haveri Police firing along with Ganesha idols displayed for sale on RV Road in Bangalore
Students of MES College with NCC Cadets take a rally on awareness on Eco Friendly-Ganesha idols at Malleswaram in Bangalore
Scientists at the Board point out that the sheer volume of Ganesha idols that are immersed in sweet water sources every year is astounding. It is estimated that a city like Bangalore sells about 18-20 lakh idols per annum of varied sizes and designs. As the size go up and the design become more complicated the use of paints also go up and consequently the pollutants that each idol carries with it also go up.
A dealer in Malleshwaram in Bangalore says he sells about 15,000 idols every year but he never knew the paints used had so much poison in them. There are about 1000 water bodies around the place from Sheshadripuram to the 18th cross of Malleshwaram including the Sankey Tank. There are atleast 10 other dealers in this area who sell not less than 30,000 idols together.
How much paint does each idol gets? When asked a producer in Car Street in Mangalore said “an idol of 12 inches length and 5 inches width consumes atleast 100 ml of different paints. This size was most popular among the devotees he added. "We have been catering to the needs of buyer-devotees from the USA and UK and Europe. We send the idols from here to Mangalore port from where the idols are shipped. The idols for foreign buyers may range from six inches to seven feet at the most. The tiny idols are sold for rupees 60 to 70. An agent buys them in bulk, nearly three months ahead of the
festival and ships them, he adds.
The Pollution Control Board has put out a notice requesting the people to use a bucketful of water to immerse their idols and dispose the water on land where it filters down. This way it would not pollute the water sources.
Our Mumbai Correspondent adds:
Mumbai presents a mammoth celebration of Vinayaka Chathurti. The city from Bori Bunder to Kanjur Marg nearly 75 lakh to 80 lakh idols are kept. Maharashtrians believe in sparing no effort to make the festival grand and meaningful. In towns like Ghatkopar, Mahim, Kurla, Dadar, Vikhroli, Mahalakshmi, Nerul(Navi Mumbai) and some places on harbour line and central railway the celebrations reach very grand scale.