CPCB forbids usage of thermocol, plastic in its revised guidelines for idol immersion


New Delhi: Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in its revised guidelines has forbidden the usage of plastic, thermocol and plaster of Paris for making of idols.

CPCB’s “revised guidelines for idol immersion” is to encourage eco-friendly and bio-degradable idol immersion and prevent the pollution in recipient water bodies.

“Traditionally, clay is used to make Ganesh idols. Over the years, however, plaster of Paris (POP), which is lighter and cheaper, has become the favoured material to mould idols. POP contains chemicals such as gypsum, sulphur, phosphorus, and magnesium.

“The dyes used to colour these idols may also contain mercury, cadmium, arsenic, lead, and carbon. Plastic and thermocol accessories are used to decorate these idols. Such materials are not biodegradable, hence are toxic when immersed in water bodies. Hence, need was felt to develop guidelines for idol immersion,” the report by CPCB says.

The report has been formed based on guidelines particularly for artisans, pooja organising committees, role and responsibilities of the local and urban authorities. It also formulated guidelines for idol immersion in rivers/ponds/lakes, sea, household.

In the guidelines for craftsman, it said that idols made up of traditional virtuous like clay and mud as well as free from plaster of Paris, plastic and thermocol should be encouraged.

Use of single-use plastic and thermocol materials shall not be permitted strictly.

Water pollution has been a serious concern globally with rampant accumulation of toxic materials intensely harming the biodiversity at large.

In India, idols made of toxic materials are being immersed causing harm to the water bodies.

To avoid this, puja organising committees need to procure low heights eco-friendly idols as much as possible. Idols decorated with biodegradable, organic colours such as turmeric, chandan and gerua etc only should be used for offering puja to avoid impact on environment.

Licenses/permits may be granted by the local and urban bodies only to those artisans who uses only eco-friendly natural clay materials (but not PoP or baked clay) in making idols, prior to festive times.

“Immersion of Tazia during Muharram should be performed in an eco-friendly manner,” report suggests.

In case of idol immersion in sea, immersion may be done between low tide line (LTL) and high tide line (HTL) (irrespective of its depth) and only at designated areas identified by the Coastal Zone Management Authorities in the States/UTs.

Individual households should be encouraged to use only eco-friendly idols made of natural clay and bio-degradable materials as decorative and pooja materials.

The concerned State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs)/Pollution Control Committees (PCCs) in states and Union Territories requires to conduct water quality assessment of water bodies, preferably in tier-1 cities (having population of more than 1 lakh), at three stages i.e. pre-immersion, during immersion and post-immersion, directs CPCB.

According to CPCB, “SPCBs/PCCs shall help district administration in preparing material for creating mass awareness as well as to assess innovative approaches for eco-friendly idol making by idol makers or craftsman or artisans.”

However, it needs to be watched how much of these guidelines are being followed in real sense.

India’s two water bodies Ganga and Yamuna have undergone a change with “improved water quality” following nationwide lockdown.

In this regard, both CPCB and DPCC prepared a report on Ganga and Yamuna respectively.

The previous guidelines formulated by CPCB on idol immersion was in 2010. (ANI)