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Puja clean-up diktat
- Civic bodies free to slap a fee

The state pollution control board has asked the Calcutta Municipal Corporation and other civic bodies to clean the Hooghly — the water and the ghats — within 24 hours of immersion.

“We want to see the river and the banks clean. We don’t want to know who are immersing idols, but we will pull up the civic authorities if we find the river and the ghats littered with waste after 24 hours of the immersion,” board chairman Sudip Bandopadhyay asserted at a press conference at Paribesh Bhavan on Thursday.

The civic bodies, he added, can collect a fee from puja organisers for the clean-up act. The authorities have been given the liberty to fix the amount of the fee.

“Not just the Hooghly, all the ponds, canals and other wetlands where idols are immersed, will have to be cleaned by the civic bodies concerned. The banks, too, fall within the ambit of our directive,” Bandopadhyay said.

The pollution control board is planning to ban the use of crane feathers to decorate dhaks. “At least 20,000 cranes have been killed this year to prepare the feather-chains that are attached to the rear of the dhaks. We are planing to ban the use of such feather-chains,’’ the chairman said.

Announcing the norms and guidelines to be followed by the organisers, Bandopadhyay said all big puja committees have been urged to take “effective steps” to protect the environment during the festive season.

The green watchdog has sent 19,000 letters to puja committees across the state to inform them about the dos and don’ts and the recent Supreme Court verdict on environment issues.

“Last year, cages were erected at two ghats on the Hooghly to dump flowers and other material before immersion. But we saw several people dumping plastic bags filled with waste. This year, we will not allow plastic bags. Police have to be on alert to ensure the ban is not flouted,” Bandopadhyay said. He urged the groups that offer prizes to organisers to consider the environment aspect of the pujas.

Microphones cannot be used, except for making announcements, after 10 pm.

A control room, which can be accessed by calling 1800-345-3390 (toll free), will remain open 24 hours to receive complaints.

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