Society for the Confluence of Festivals in India SCFI
Celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi on 25th August 2017

Environmental Impact of Ganesha Visarjan

Visarjan of Lord Ganesh is a big event in which huge Ganesh idols are immersed in water. The Ganpati idols are taken to lakes, ponds and rivers for immersion with a lot of pomp, zest and fanfaronade. Most of these idols are made of Plaster of Paris which is cheap and easy to fabricate into idols but its use has been discouraged due to the deleterious effects it has on marine life. The environmental impact of Ganesha Visarjan has proved to be profoundly negative.

Harmful Effects of Non-Biodegradable Materials for Making Idols
  • Plaster Of Paris: This substance is produced by the process of calcification of gypsum. It is mixed with water to get the desired consistency and then can be easily moulded into desired shapes. It is cheaper and easier to handle than most bio-degradable materials but disrupts aquatic eco-systems. It increases the amount of metals, sludge and solids in water which ends up rummaging aquatic life.
  • Decoration Elements: Items likecosmetics, paint, ornaments, clothes, etc. increase the amount of trace elements such as chromium, mercury, zinc, lead, iron and arsenic as well as organic matter, metalloids, inorganic matter, grease, oil and more. All these negatively affect aquatic ecosystems.
  • Flowers and Oily Substances: These substances raise the amount of organic and inorganic matter in water bodies and thus lead to water pollution.
  • Beauty Articles and Bamboo Sticks: The big portionsof these items accumulate and disrupt the flow of the river while smaller particles keep circulating with the flow of and settle at the bottom, thereby contributing to waste production and water pollution.
  • Plastic and Polythene Bags and Similar Items: These are hazardous materials and gravely disrupt and threaten aquatic life.
  • Edibles: These substances elevate the grease, oil and the organic content in water bodies thus contributing to the damage of marine life.
Measures Taken To Create Awareness about Environmental Pollution
  • The environmental impact of Ganesha visarjan has led to the banning of Plaster of Paris idols in the states of Goa, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
  • Initiatives to produce clay idols in Hyderabad have been sponsored by the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board.
  • Along with the banning of Plaster of Paris idols in Goa, the government has urged devotees to buy artisan made clay idols to reduce the adverse environmental impact of Ganesha visarjan.
  • Sincere efforts have been made by many non-governmental organizations to encourage devotees to use traditional clay, metal or brass statues. Clay idols do not contribute to environmental pollution; brass and metal idols can be immersed in a bucket of water at home.
  • The practise of symbolical immersion, which means sprinkling water on worshipped idols, is on the rise. Visarjan of stone, brass and Ganesh idols made of other metals is conducted in this manner.
  • Instead of Plaster of Paris idols being drowned, they are nowadays being repainted and reused every year.
  • Governmental and non-governmental organizations are strongly supporting the creation of Ganesha idols with bio-degradable materials like papier mache, coconuts, turmeric, clay and other decomposable products.

The environmental impact of Ganesha Visarjan has been realized to be a huge one, affecting aquatic life all over the country to a great extent. Hence, it is the duty of all citizens to adopt some of the measures stated above to protect marine life and safe guard the ecological balance of nature.

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