Ganesh Chaturthi or Ganesh Chavithi as it is known in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana is a big festival in the city of Hyderabad.
Every locality has its own pandal where a benevolent God beams dotingly at his many followers. When it is time for immersing the idol, there is the usual pomp and ritual. For the most part, this is how it is done across the country, except for a small change.
The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) has taken note of the amount of pollutants the immersion adds to the lakes in the city and has proactively built 15 immersion tanks to add to the ones built last year, bringing the total number to 25. The immersion tanks will not only help the lakes, but it will also help in reducing traffic at Hussain Sagar, Tank Bund which otherwise used to be inundated.
The immersion tanks are based on Bengaluru’s Ulsoor lake model. The idea is to pump water from adjoining water bodies and flush out the polluted water post nimajjanam (visarjan/immersion) via sewage lines. Following which, the tanks will be de-silted and reused for other festivals like Bathukamma etc.
Water warrior behind Neknampur immersion tank
Madhulika S. Choudhary from Dhruvansh, an NGO that is actively working towards preserving the lakes of Hyderabad says her wakeup call came after the Ganesh Chathurthi last year. “Around five-six days after the visarjan, I observed thousands of dead fish floating in the Neknampur Lake which is located near Taramati Baradari, Hyderabad. We had been actively working on cleaning the lake for months.
We had had cleaning drives and planted saplings and were just beginning to see the biodiversity around the lake. It hurt to see the lake struggling again,” she remembers.
This year, Madhulika chose to plan ahead. With help from other NGOs, colleges and Government organisations, she proposed a design for an immersion tank.
The 70 feet by 70 feet immersion tank at Neknampur Lake is one of the biggest in Hyderabad.
To keep the immersion tank oxidised, Madhulika and her team hope to build a wetland (A wetland is a land area that is saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally, such that it takes on the characteristics of a distinct ecosystem – source, Wikipedia).
DIY solution for POP (Plaster of Paris) idols
Though a clay idol is ideal, the popularity of POP idols cannot be dismissed. In a bid to reduce the pollution to water bodies due to the immersion of POP idols, National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) in collaboration with Dhruvansh (NGO) has come up with a simple DIY technique.
• Construct a tank as per the height of your idol, so as it can be fully submerged
• Calculate the amount of water that will be needed to fill the tank
• The tank needs about 20% Ammonium Bicarbonate solution to 80% water. First add Ammonium Bicarbonate to the tank, fill water, and mix gently
• Your tank is ready for POP idol immersion
• You will get two by-products after the immersion, Ammonium Sulphate in an aqueous state and Calcium Carbonate that will precipitate and settle down.
List of some Immersion tanks across Hyderabad
1. Neknampur Lake, Neknampur village
2. Ambeer Cheruvu – Pragati Nagar
3. Nallagandla Cheruvu – Nallagandla
4. Malkam Cheruvu – Raidurgam
5. Pedda Cheruvu – Gangaram
6. Vennela Cheruvu – Kompally
7. Rangadhamuni Cheruvu – Kukatpally
8. Oora Cheruvu – Kapra
9. Saki Cheruvu – Patancheru
10. Raisamudram Lake – R.C. Puram
11. Gopi Cheruvu – Lingampally
12. Kaidamma Kunta – Hafeezpet
“Tradition says that whoever immerses the Ganesha, has to take a dip in the water with the idol. If the water is too dirty for you to step in, is it right to put the Lord in it? This Ganesh Chathurthi, think of the lakes and the life it sustains. Use the immersion tanks sensibly, dispose of garbage in the bins and if you choose to get clay idols, nothing like it,” urges Madhulika.