Ranchi Lake chokes on puja paraphernalia on Sunday even two days after idol immersions. the JSPCB had issued a 48-hour clean-up deadline. Pictures by Hardeep Singh
The water bodies of Ranchi continue to be strewn with Puja paraphernalia even 48 hours after the last idol immersion took place, in gross violation of Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board guidelines, which stipulated cleaning of all tanks within two days of immersions.
On Sunday, almost all the prominent water bodies of the capital — Ranchi Lake, Jail Talab, Line Tank, Hatania Talab and Argora Talab, among others — displayed signs of the havoc wreaked by immersion of idols that were made flouting every guideline in the rulebook.
Everywhere, the water had changed hue, thanks to the indiscriminate use of toxic colours, which were banned by the pollution board. Flowers, pieces of cloth, plastic and paper decorations, chunks of burnt clay and plaster of Paris jostled for space on the surface of the water at almost every spot, as children could be seen wading in to retrieve bits and pieces as playthings.
Member secretary of the pollution control board Sanjay Kumar Sinha admitted that despite warning the civic bodies and Puja committees, synthetic colours had been used randomly.
“The board had directed all stakeholders such as Puja committees, district administration, Ranchi Municipal Corporation and others to use natural colours while preparing idols and follow the guidelines to ensure water bodies were free from pollution, but all directives were ignored,” he said.
Asked what the board was doing to deal with the situation, Sinha pleaded helplessness, stating that the board was only a regulatory body. While it could offer suggestions, it could not punish anyone for violating guidelines.
According to rules, the municipal corporation should have collected all the waste from the banks of the water bodies within 48 hours of the immersion process being completed.
Chief executive officer of the corporation Vinay Kumar Choubey, who is supposed to look after the water bodies and ensure their cleaning, admitted his responsibility and said a clean-up drive will be undertaken in a day or two.
“Ponds and lakes are cleaned after immersions every year and will be done this year too. It is a routine exercise of the corporation and people in the city will have no problem in celebrating Chhath,” he said, allaying fears expressed by some that the unclean water posed a health hazard for devotees who would stand in the water to offer prayers during Chhath.
Four pages of guidelines released by the pollution board stipulated that idols had to be made of natural materials. Use of traditional clay and plaster of Paris was encouraged. The guidelines also suggested collection of leftover materials from idol immersion points within 48 hours for proper disposal.
According to rules, paraphernalia like flowers, cloth and decorations should have been removed before immersion. It suggested segregating of bio-degradable materials for recycling or composting while non-biodegradable materials could be disposed at sanitary landfills.
The pollution control board was also supposed to help the local administration to prepare material to create awareness about the need to conserve water and prevent pollution.
Should the pollution control board have power to punish?