Ganga immersion: West Bengal seeks exemption from blanket ban

KOLKATA: The Bengal government has reportedly sought exemption from National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) directions regarding blanket ban on immersion of idols in the Ganga and its tributaries on the plea of imminence of the direction to the festivity, reports the Times of India.

The state has informed NMCG that its environment department has already issued similar notification in 2018 and would try to minimise the damage to the river and its tributaries during the immersion. In its direction under Section 5 of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, regarding the immersion of idols in rivers and waterbodies during festive time, a blanket ban has been imposed on immersion of idols in the Ganga and its tributaries. The magistrates of the districts adjoining the Ganga are to impose a fine worth Rs 50,000 as environment compensation on a person violating the directions.

The district magistrates were also asked to submit the compliance report to NMCG within seven days from the end of each festival like Ganesh Chaturthi, Viswakarma Puja, Dussehra, Deepawali and Chhath Puja.

“We have already issued notification on September 19, 2018, which covered almost all the points highlighted at NMCG directions,” said West Bengal Pollution Control Board member secretary Rajesh Kumar. Even though the Bengal’s notification is general and broad-based for all rivers of the state, the NMCG direction is Ganga-specific, issued to 11 chief secretaries of Ganga basin states, including West Bengal.
The NMCG direction has asked the states to cordon off and barricade the ghats to prevent any stray immersion of idols in the river or its banks. Adequate arrangements should be made for designated idol-immersion sites within the municipal area or banks of Ganga and its tributaries by constructing temporary confined ponds with removable synthetic liners at the bottom.

The directions are categorical on the ban on use of synthetic material/non-biodegradable material, plaster of Paris (POP), baked clay, resin fibers and thermocol for making of idols. Besides, the use of toxic and non-biodegradable chemical dyes or synthetic paints for painting of idols should be strictly prohibited.