- MPCB not in favour of allowing such idols. Waiting for the instructions from CPCB
- Sellers must inform buyers about PoP idols
By Kaushik Bhattacharya
Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) is allowing the sale and use of Plaster of Paris (PoP) idols during festivals this year as the matter is pending in the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court. However, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) is likely to go ahead with the ban imposed by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) last year. This difference of opinion between two authorities is raising confusion among sellers and buyers.
Former Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar last year deferred the CPCB’s ban on PoP idols by a year keeping the pandemic and lockdown situation in the mind. The minister said that the CPCB had banned the use of PoP for making Ganesh idols owing to its harmful effect on the environment. The Ministry received several representations against the order since the sculpting process had already begun last season. So he had stayed the ban for one year just so that those (idol makers) who have sculpted the idols last year would be spared losses.
Similarly, the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court had directed the state government last year to bring in legislation for banning PoP idols across the state. The matter is sub-judice in the court. “As the matter is pending with the High Court, we are allowing the sale and use of POP idols this year,” Rajesh Bhagat, Deputy Commissioner, Solid Waste Management, NMC told ‘The Hitavada’. Bhagat said, “The retailers must have to inform consumers whether the idol is of PoP or not. The manufacturers must have to mark red the PoP idol and the seller must display banner on their shops about PoP idols.”
A senior official of MPCB said, “The ban on POP idols has already imposed but we are waiting for any directions from the CPCB. Before getting any instruction from New Delhi it will be very early to comment on this matter.” Though NMC is allowing manufacturing, sale and purchase of POP idols in the city, the people are still in ‘what to do’ situation on this issue. Kaustav Chatterjee, Founder, Green Vigil Foundation said, “We are good at making rules but very reluctant in implementing the same. Ban on POP idols and single use plastic are the unique examples.” It is the same story every year, POP idols are allowed in current year with a promise of complete ban in next year but that never happens. POP idols are harmful to lake ecosysten as they are non biodegradable and the paint used contains heavy metals which enter the food chain too, said Chatterjee.
“The ban need to be enforced atleast five months prior to Ganesh Festival so that POP idols are not manufactured at all because once manufactured, the POP idols are going to penetrate the market and finally reach to house holds,” Chatterjee added.
Citizens also need to avoid POP idols as majority are aware of the adverse effects. Allowing POP idols means, once again NMC need to barricade all lakes and install huge number of artificial tanks and depute huge manpower to clean lakes post Visarjan.