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Initiative for ‘greener’ festivities

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Paryavarana Margadarsi Vaisakhi plans a series of awareness programmes

With a little over a month to go for the Vinayaka Chavithi festivities to begin, the celebration season is becoming eco-friendly. Alarmed by the high levels of pollution caused by toxic paints and plaster of Paris (POP) statues, environmentalists and NGOs in the city are encouraging ‘greener’ celebrations through awareness campaigns.

Paryavarana Margadarsi Vaisakhi is launching its campaign for using eco-friendly Ganesha idols from Monday. As part of its month-long campaign, around 50,000 pamphlets will be distributed across the city to propagate the concept of eco-friendly celebrations. “We will be conducting a series of campaigns with a special focus on schools and colleges to make the young minds aware of the hazards of POP.

PCB guidelines

The Central Pollution Control Board proposed guidelines way back in 2010 to bring down the use of POP. They suggest that the usage of POP should be stopped immediately and the statues be made of biodegradable material. Even while submerging clay images, all the ornaments on it must be removed,” said S. Vijaya Kumar, president of Paryavarana Margadarsi Vaisakhi, on Sunday.

He released the posters which highlighted the environmental hazards due to POP.

The organisation will be conducting clay statue-making workshops and awareness campaigns in over 40 schools and colleges in the city this year. Other city-based organisations like MEECONS (Mother Earth Environmental Consciousness Society) will also be conducting a series of awareness programmes and workshops on clay images involving traditional artisans.

Incidentally, a growing number of families are opting for smaller clay statues, which they immerse in water at home or collectively along with other statues of their locality.

“It has been observed that 50 per cent of Ganeshas used last year were clay ones. Even on the outskirts and rural belts of Visakhapatnam, people are turning to clay, which is an encouraging sign,” said J.V. Ratnam of Green Climate, an organisation that has been campaigning for ‘greener’ festival celebrations in the region from the past 16 years.

Prof. Madhava Babu from AU College of Engineering said that the brightly painted POP statues that are immersed in the sea ultimately get washed ashore and contain harmful chemicals and colours.

Some states like West Bengal are advocating a ban on painting idols with toxic chemicals.

Other cities like Pune and Nagpur are spearheading an active campaign to immerse the clay statues in small tanks to prevent pollution in water bodies.