Central pollution board bans use of plaster of paris in making idols

Central pollution board bans use of plaster of paris in making idols

In a major decision, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has forbidden the use of plastic, thermocol and Plaster of Paris (PoP) in making idols of gods and goddesses. The Board stated that idols made up of only natural, bio-degradable, eco-friendly, raw materials without any toxic, inorganic raw materials, i.e. PoP, plastic, thermocol, should be encouraged, allowed and promoted.

Meanwhile, CPCB also said that dried flower components for making ornaments and natural resin of trees can be used as shining material for making idols attractive. The move comes in order to prevent pollution in recipient water bodies. 

Alongside, the use of toxic and no-biodegradable chemical dyes/oil paints for painting idols has been strictly prohibited. CPCB also told that enamel and synthetic dye-based paints on idols must be discouraged. Only naturally occurring colours from plants, feathers of different birds, mineral or coloured rocks can be used for colouring.

Craftsmen, artisans and manufacturers involved in making idols must be registered with civic bodies and should be involved in the construction of idols in an eco-friendly manner in accordance with the guidelines.

Meanwhile, when it comes to idol immersion (visarjan), the pollution control board suggested that they should happen at specific designated artificial confined tanks/ponds. It further added that a temporary artificial tank or pond with a liner made with well-graded/ highly impervious clay or eco synthetic (HDPE), and having earthen bunds on the bank of the river/lake/pond should be created for idol immersion by the concerned urban local bodies.

However, if immersion of idols in rivers, lakes and ponds is inevitable, an arrangement may be made for the construction of adequate capacity temporary confined areas at designated spots with earthern bunds for immersion of idols at least 50 meters away from the water body.

These temporary ponds must be constructed with a provision of an adequate landing platform for keeping crane for idol immersion. The water for these ponds can be drawn from the nearby water bodies.

"Plaster of Paris is a problem and causes huge environmental issues but the issue is more about the human mind-set. For example, last year in Delhi, people wanted to have immersions in the Yamuna. The government announced that the people cannot immerse the idols in the Yamuna. They enforced it and it worked. So, the issue is not Plaster of Paris but to make sure that things do not go haywire to implement the process," Environmentalist Zoru Bhathena told Mumbai Live.

Meanwhile, the CPCB has already notified State Pollution Control Boards to conduct water quality assessment of water bodies in three stages, i.e. pre-immersion, during immersion and post-immersion. The post-immersion samples must be collected after the third, fifth, seventh, and ninth day of the festival.

The board also suggested the collection of visarjan charges from the people at immersion sites to pay the agencies cleaning up the waste at the sites. Further, the CPCB said that waste water collected after idol immersion from the temporary artificial ponds/tanks, after ensuring on-site pre-treatment, should either be discharged into or public sewers leading to the Sewage Treatment Plants/ Common Effluent Treatment Plants.

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