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Save environment during festivals
The initiative taken by the Durga Puja organisers for 2008 should help curb environment pollution. A Green Theme award is under consideration. This has been mentioned by the Environment minister of West Bengal.

THE MAJOR festivals are gradually drawing near. The beginning would be with the Ganesh Utsav of Maharashtra. The Ganesh idols are usually made out of plaster of Paris (POP) and pose a threat to water bodies because they do not get dissolved in water. Every year, volumes is written on encouraging the idol makers to switch over to alternate bio-degradable materials like clay, but the hesitation remains. People who are accustomed to a certain format find it difficult to change the same. Hence, when Ganesh idols of enormous size are taken in a procession for immersion in the Arabian Sea, it is a treat for the eyes. However, the subsequent scenes are not too happy to look at. The sea water gets polluted like never before and causes damage to marine life fish perish, plants die and the waste material that gets swept to the shores during high tide post immersions does not help matters. The picture is the same in other parts of the country where artisans rely on plaster of Paris to give shape to the idols.

In contrast, for the Durga Pujas, the idols are made out of clay the skeleton is of bamboo and hay, over which layers of clay are applied over a period of time. The finishing touches follow later and the decorations look splendid once completed. But, here again, materials that are used are not always environment friendly. For example cork, fiberglass and thermocol. No doubt, these add to the beauty of the idols and the finished product like the pandals, in which the idols are kept for the duration of the festivals but prove harmful in the long run.

Illumination of the pandal, the idols and approach roads play a major role in adding to the glamour of the festivities. It would be fantastic if organisers of these festivals took a decision to recognize puja committees that resort to illumination by solar cells or alternate means. The budget of Durga Pujas in Kolkata can accept this additional burden if need be, the sponsors could take a lead.

The initiative taken by the Durga Puja organisers for 2008 should help curb environment pollution. A Green Theme award is under consideration. This has been mentioned by the Environment minister of West Bengal Sailen Sarkar. c Ten of the 1,000-odd big puja committees in the city will be shortlisted depending on how well they uphold the theme. The best of the 10 will win the awardc.

To determine the best Durga Pujas of 2008, the concern for the environment will count more than the pandal decoration or the idol size. Guidelines will be issued to emphasise on the materials to be used while decorating pandals. The team of judges that travels to the pandals to observe and compare the annual offerings will have an additional parameter to monitor this year.

Such actions need to be pursued continuously and be added to the manifesto of Vision 2067 at least by then the realisation should have set in that a concerted effort is necessary to combat the evil of an unhealthy environment.

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