Lakhs of idols are immersed in water bodies all over India every year.
Over the years, Plaster of Paris has become the preferred material for making Idols in India because it is lighter, cheaper and easily available. These idols are mostly accessorized using plastic and thermocol (polystyrene), and painted using dyes and paints.
Every year, lakhs of such idols are immersed in different types of water bodies around India during festivities and other processions. Since most of the materials used in the making of these idols are not biodegradable, they release chemicals, toxic substances and elements into the water bodies such as:
Keeping in mind the long term damages these practices can lead to towards the environment, the High Court of Mumbai directed the Central Government to develop guidelines for Idol Immersion in its order dated 22/07/2008.
In pursuance of these directions, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) constituted a committee in the year 2009. Based on the recommendations of the committee, the board finalized “Guidelines for Idol Immersion”. Due to the developments for substitute materials and methods, CPCB revised the guidelines for Idol Immersion.
Key Points from the revised guidelines for Idol Immersion:
- Idols made using Plaster of Paris (PoP) shall be banned.
- Accessories used along with the Idols should be made using dried flower components, straw and other biodegradable materials.
- Use of Single-Use-Plastic and Thermocol (Polystyrene) shall not be permitted.
- Use of toxic and non-biodegradable chemical dyes/oils paints on Idols shall be strictly prohibited.
- All craftsmen or artisans or manufacturers involved in making Idols shall be registered with Civic Bodies.
- Large scale idol manufacturers (100 idols / day) shall be registered with the Urban Local Bodies (ULB).
- Pooja Organizing Committees shall procure only eco-friendly idols from respective ULB registered or authorized craftsmen or artisans.
- Pooja Organizing Committees shall seek prior permission from ULBs at least 1 month in advance for the idol immersions.
- Waste collection centers for collection of segregated waste in the vicinity of the immersion sites shall be arranged by the local bodies.
- Littering or burning of solid wastes generated at the immersion sites shall be strictly prohibited.
Revised Guidelines for Idol Immersions by CPCB