This Dashami, puja organisers will pay to keep the Hooghly free of immersion filth. And a novel tool will be at hand to net the waste.
Huge quantities of flowers, leaves, plastic, straw, mud and bamboo are thrown into the water every year, along with the idols. Mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya and his team are banking on makeshift enclosures to keep the pollutants from being carried away by the current.
Netted mini-pools, about 50 ft by 50 ft in dimension, will be set up at the ghats designated for immersion. The pools will collect the garbage dumped into the river, along with the idols. The immersion over, the garbage will be fished out and disposed of elsewhere. Each mini-pool is expected to cost about Rs 15,000.
While the mud collected in the pools might dissolve in the water, the mesh will keep the rest of the garbage from getting scattered. The waste will be taken out of the water within 48 hours.
'About Rs 100-200 may be collected as immersion fee, as we have to take the trouble of collecting the refuse thrown into the water, and dumping it elsewhere,' said the mayor on Thursday.
'We also have to invest a lot of money for making immersion arrangements at the ghats, like building platforms, installing lights and repairing roads,' he added.
The netted mini-pools will be set up at 20 ghats, from Cossipore to Garden Reach, where idols are immersed. The engineers of these boroughs have been directed to erect the pool fencing in their areas, the mayor explained.
Calcutta Municipal Corporation's (CMC) parks and gardens wing has been entrusted with the responsibility of retrieving the garbage from the mini-pools, while the conservancy department will dispose of it.
Sudip Kumar Banerjee, chairman, West Bengal Pollution Control Board, met municipal commissioner Alapan Bandyopadhyay on Wednesday and placed the proposal. 'Contrary to popular belief, fermented leaves and flowers cause more harm to the water than the colours used on the idols,' said Banerjee.
Several organisers have raised objections. Pradip Ghosh, Congress leader of Opposition in the CMC and organiser of the Santosh Mitra Square puja, asked: 'How can a mayor, who fails to ensure the city's garbage is regularly cleared, ask for money to clean up the river'