‘Toxic’ idols choking rivers, say environmentalists

November 14th, 2007 - 2:41 am ICT by admin  
In Kolkata, around 40,000 idols of Goddess Durga were immersed in River Hoogly, to mark the conclusion of the 10-day long Durga Puja on Sunday.

Elaborately painted and decorated idols are worshipped before being taken in mass processions for immersion into nearby rivers, lakes and sea.

Environmentalists say the idols are often made from non-biodegradable material such as plastic, cement and plaster of Paris and painted using toxic dyes, which are harmful pollutants.

Subash Dutta, an environmentalist, said the High Court has expressed concern about the debris, the straw and strings and other waste.

“The metallic solid wastes are taken for the recycling process. But other waste material is left behind in the water causing tremendous pollution,” said Dutta.

Dutta, who had earlier filed a petition at the Kolkata High Court, said that the West Bengal State Pollution Control Board had been directed to collect samples of the river water — pre-immersion and post-immersion — for a comparison and to identify the exact level of pollution.

Materials like plaster of Paris do not dissolve easily and reduce the oxygen level in the water, which results in the death of fish and other aquatic organisms, say the environmentalists.

The paints used on idols contain heavy metals such as mercury, chromium and lead, which are carcinogenic, say the environmentalists, adding that this could adversely affect the drinking water.

Rahul, a resident, said though idol immersion is a major cause of water pollution, there are plenty of other factors, which need to be dealt with.

“While we should attend to the pollution that takes place due to immersion of idols, we should also keep in mind the industrial effluents and the refuse from the city that is also the reason behind pollution,” he said. (ANI)

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