Ahead of Durga Puja celebrations, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee on Wednesday prohibited idol immersion in any water body and asked people to immerse them at home in buckets or containers, saying the consequent pollution in rivers and lakes was a matter of concern.
“Idol Immersions shall not be allowed during the forthcoming Durga Puja in any public place including river Yamuna or any other Water Body/Public Place/Ponds, Ghats. The idol immersion ritual may be performed within the home premises in a bucket or container,” it said in a notification.
It said on festive occasions such as Durga Puja, it has been a tradition to immerse idols in water bodies like rivers, lakes, ponds, wells, among others, and the consequent pollution of such water bodies has been a matter of concern.
“Studies carried out to assess deterioration in water quality due to idol immersion reveal deterioration of water quality in respect to conductivity, biochemical oxygen demand and heavy metal concentration,” the pollution control body said.
It also forbade the use of plaster of paris (PoP) or baked clay for making idols and insisted on the use of only natural materials like traditional clay, noting that the chemical paints, colours and dyes applied on such PoP idols contain hazardous chemicals which cause harmful effects on aquatic life, which when consumed by humans may cause cancer and other diseases, including respiratory ailments, skin infections, among others.
“ldols should be made only from natural materials as described in the holy scripts. Use of traditional clay for idol is permitted.
Use of baked clay, plaster of paris, among others, in idol making is hereby prohibited,” it said.
The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) also discouraged painting of idols and said in case idols are to be painted, only water soluble and non-toxic natural dyes should be used.
“Use of toxic and non-biodegradable chemical dyes for painting idols is strictly prohibited,” it said.
The DPCC also said that worship material like flowers, decorating material (made of paper), among others, be removed before immersion of idols, and may be collected separately for disposal in an environmentally safe manner like handing over to door-to-door waste collection vehicles.
It also directed that composting of biodegradable material be carried out at home, if possible.
With these directions, the DPCC directed all the agencies concerned to submit an Action Taken Report every Friday and that the violators will be punished.
“It may be noted that the violation of directions issued under Section 33 A of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, or the rules made there under shall be punishable under section 41 of the said Act which include imprisonment up to six years and with fine,” it said.
It also said that in view of a directive issued by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) on September 16, 2019 prohibiting idol immersion in Ganga and its tributaries, violators are required to pay Rs 50,000 as Environment Compensation.
“As per guidelines for Phased Re-opening issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs order of September 30, 2021 to extend existing orders issued by Delhi Disaster Management Authority, social/political/sports/entertainment/cultural/ religious festivals related gathering and congregations are not permitted and the same needs to be followed in letter and spirit,” the DPCC added.