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Idol Immersion In Ganga Proves Costly For Offenders, Central Government Directive To Slam Rs 50,000 Fine

In an attempt of its first kind to save the Ganga river a hefty fine on immersing idols in Ganga of up to 50,000 was be levied. This was a part of massive save Ganga rally by the Govt of India. 

Few steps were undertaken during the Navratri festival where thousands of idols of goddess Durga are immersed in Ganga. One of them is the central government's nod to slam ₹50,000 (US$ 700) ‘environment compensation’ fine on offenders under Section 5 of The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

The government also informed that the fine amount that will be levied, collected and deposited in their respective State Pollution Control Boards.

 Authorities, Boards and corporations have been asked to ensure the idols are free from synthetic and non-biodegradable materials like POP, resin fibers and themocol.Presently Karnataka and other concerned state governments have been following this directive.

The idols made from synthetic materials and especially artificial colors later make the water toxic upon wearing off. It has a harmful effect on the aquatic ecosystem of the river and especially for the different types of fishes.

The central government issued a 15 point directive including cordoning off the ghats. This would prevent people to reach the ghats and also overcrowding of ghats. The immersing of idols is not the only main factor that would contibute to river pollution. The other materials used in puja are also harmful and it would prevent the mixing of these unwanted items in river water.

The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) issued the directive to chief secretaries in 11 Ganga basin states, viz. Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal. These directives were issued after a meeting of NMCG officials and these respective stated pollution board officials in September.

It has also been reported that officials have been strictly told to follow the orders. The officials have also been told to find alternative arrangements that can include designated immersion locations in municipality areas or designated temporary ponds near the banks of the Ganga river and its tributaries. 

The immersion of idols is very common practice in Indian culture for quite a time. Be it Ganesh Chaturthi, Durga Puja, Saraswati Puja or Vishwakarma Puja. The problem is that these immersions take place at a very large scale ,which in turn, raise the pollutants in the water and contaminate the water. 

Also the chief secretaries of these states have been asked to submit the action reports after the end of each festivals and the deadline of submitting these reports is seven days after the last day of festival. 

In 2019, Indian PM Narendra Modi had merged all the ministries related to water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvention with drinking water and sanitation to form Jal Shakti ministry. The ministry has been incorporated with an aim to clean Ganga river. However, in 2014 Modi also launched the Namami Gange campaign to clear and rejuvenate the river.

But according to data released by Sankat Mochan Foundation’s Ganga Laboratory, the picture has become more worse. BOD, Biological Oxygen Demand, has reached 66-78mg/l  from 46.8-54mg/l just between January 2016- January 2019. The picture is not that much rosy that anyone would have expected but it would be interesting noticing the impact of this recent step.

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