Immersion: highs & lows

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 10.10.11
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The immersion this year was far from perfect but it sure was better organised than in previous years. Metro scanned the Hooghly as 4,300 idols were immersed from Thursday afternoon to late on Saturday and found that the stake holders had miles to go before Calcuttans could enjoy a pollution-free bhashaan. The key problem identified by environment experts was unequal distribution of load among the ghats dotting the Calcutta and Howrah banks. “Doi ghat in south Calcutta, Natherbagan ghat in the north and Telkal ghat in Howrah have proper infrastructure for immersion and should be better utilised to reduce the load on the other ghats,” said one. A Metro report card on the final ritual of Puja 2011

BABUGHAT (BAJE KADAMTALA GHAT)

Plus: The ghat shouldered the maximum burden on the Calcutta side, witnessing close to 1,500 immersions or one in five minutes during peak hours. A crane installed on a barge to lift the idols immediately after immersion helped reduce river pollution. An army of local people joined the 100-odd workers hired by the civic body and the port trust in collecting recyclable accessories of the idols from the water. A thick rope cordoned off the immersion zone to prevent the parts that remained after the crane lifted the idols from floating away. On the bank, vats for depositing flowers and other puja items were well maintained. There were regular announcements to guide the crowds while the immersion proceeded under the gaze of a large police contingent. A couple of men in uniform were scanning the ghat from a watchtower. “Coordination among the various agencies was better than earlier years,” said mayoral council member Debasish Kumar, who looked after the proceedings along with environment activist Subhas Datta.

Minus: The structures were heaped on the bank after being lifted by the crane, causing inconvenience to people. The problem was sorted out after the authorities organised a barge for dumping the structures. Some of those who were collecting recyclable materials dirtied the lower end of the ramp by dumping the items on it.

RAMAKRISHNAPUR GHAT (Howrah)

Plus: The ghat was the cleanest despite witnessing around 500 immersions. The Howrah civic body had cordoned off the zone with a net to prevent the idols from floating away. Civic workers and local people quickly removed the structures from the river and stacked them neatly on the bank. The authorities were making regular announcements for the benefit of the crowds.

Minus: Floating hay could be spotted on the river though in much less quantity than in previous years. “We will involve volunteers in an organised way to improve the system and further reduce pollution,” said Debasish Ghosh, a mayoral council member of the local civic body.

GWALIOR GHAT

Plus: The ghat looked clean even after recording 500 immersions. The immersion area was cordoned off by a rope and vats were erected for dumping flowers and other items. Local people played a key role in dragging the idols from the river. Civic volunteers were on the bank and in the water.

Minus: There were several instances of violation, such as throwing plastic bags into the river, during peak hours. The cops were mute spectators on almost all occasions. Besides, the ghat suffers from infrastructural handicap because of narrow space for immersion, steep stairs and lack of a ramp.

SHIBPUR GHAT (Howrah)

Plus: Better than last year, when it had resembled a garbage vat. A barrier was set up around the immersion zone this year.

Minus: Many structures were dumped close to the water and were in danger of being carried away by the river. A few garlands and other puja materials could be spotted on the water.

NIMTALA GHAT

Plus: All arrangements were in place.

Minus: Nothing worked. Soon after an idol was immersed it was free for all in the river, with local rowdies taking over. There were no proper arrangements to collect the idol structures and many were allowed to drift away. “We saw a number of structures float away and the river was dirty in front of the ghat,” said Sudipto Bhattacharya, who monitored the immersion with a team of environmentalists from Sabuj Mancha (a platform of NGOs working for the environment).

SARADAMANI GHAT/RATANBABUR GHAT/BAGBAZAR GHAT/ KUMARTULI GHAT

Plus: Almost nothing

Minus: Everything. The river resembled a floating dump in front of the ghats, though they were relatively underused.