Despite a ban imposed by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) on the manufacture and sale of Ganesha idols made of plaster of Paris (POP), reports claim that close to 30,000 such idols were circulating in Bengaluru by August. The ban was imposed in July this year. Over the years, idols made of POP have been an annual talking point because of their ill-effects on the environment and the seeming inability of public administrators to put an end to their use. This year, however, Kalkeri village in the Gadag district of Karnataka, turned a new leaf.
Moved by the sustained campaign of five young school children, all 110 idols displayed in the village are made of clay.
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Picture for representation only. Source: Flickr
Mahantesh Madiwalar, Sayyedshanu Makandar, Tejasvini Patil, Basavaraj Lakkundi, and Sumitra G, students of Sri Guru Madhukeshwar High School, were concerned about the deteriorating quality of water in their village. The “anti-environment” way of celebrating the Ganesha festival was identified as a major contributor to the problem. An idol made of POP, once immersed in water, can take anywhere between four months to more than a year to fully dissolve. Additionally, paints used to decorate such idols often contain heavy metals such as lead and mercury that poison the water.
The students approached Agastya International Foundation, an NGO that runs science and education programmes for underprivileged kids, with an idea of carrying forward the message of celebrating Ganesha Chaturthi in en environment-friendly way. They met with every festival organiser in the village and requested them to use eco-friendly material to make idols. Last year, even though many people had been convinced, there was a shortage of eco-friendly idols because of high demand. This year, the organisers placed an advance order to make sure that there was enough to supply.
“Due to increased demand for eco-friendly idols, we could not get such idols for all devotees. Seeing this gap, we ensured advance order for eco-friendly idols this year,” Devappa Tamragundi, a resident of the village told the Times of India
Bans similar to the one imposed by the Karnataka government rarely have an effect; many have been struck down by various courts in the past. In such a situation, perhaps such localised campaigns with the strong involvement of concerned members of the community are the best ways to actually make a change.
Know more about Agastya International Foundation here.