-A report from Amravati filed by Prajakta Hushangbdkar

As far as the natural heritage is concerned the Amravati city was blessed. We have few good water bodies near by the city. During last few years these water bodies are getting polluted by various reasons and the most critical problem was the immersion of Ganesh Idols to these water bodies. ANT((Ant : Environment Education & Conservation Program) took a step forward to save one of the water bodies named as Chatri Talav. This magnificent lake is a home of several residential as well as migratory birds.

With the help of the local Police department and the Municipal Corporation we conduct massive campaign to keep this lake pollutant free. ANT had set up a team of volunteers during the day of Ganesh Immersion. These volunteers interacted with the thousands of people who came for immersion. ANT requested people not to throw any kind of hazardous material in the lake. After the interaction almost 95% of the people were willing to co-operate with us.  We could manage to collect almost 10 truck load of material having flowers, fruits, thermocol, plastic, decorative material and garlands etc. Most of the people brought Ganesh idols made up of Plaster of Paris.

The environmental damage it causes by thousands of idols which made up with harmful materials like plaster of paris and toxic metals, coated with deadly paints containing mercury, cadmium, lead and carbon enters our water bodies. These idols, some of them huge in size, are immersed in lakes, rivers and the sea. But plaster of Paris won’t get dissolve in water for long so next day you can observe few of them floating on water surface and bank of the river and lake too.

Scientific examination of water bodies tell us after examining the water before and after immersion the scientists found that the concentration of substances like calcium, magnesium, molybdenum and silicon concentrations increased significantly. Also, it was found that concentrations of heavy metals like arsenic, lead and mercury had increased. Metals like lead and mercury they are dangerous to health and can damage the heart, kidneys, liver, circulatory system and central nervous system. It causes huge damage to aquatic biodiversity. Large  numbers of fishes died after the immersion. As  commercial reasons ruled, the natural clay was replaced by Plaster of Paris.  These polluting idols are a modern invention and nothing to do with religion. Customarily after worshiping the divinity in this earth icon, it was returned back to the Earth by immersing it in a nearby water body. This cycle represented the cycle of creation and dissolution in Nature. We requested people to worship  Ganesh idols made up of natural clay  next year by explaining the various  environmental issues faced due to  usage of Plaster of Paris.

At the same time we appreciated the people who came with the Clay ganesh idols. During the day of Immersion i.e. on 11th October almost 2800 small Ganesh idols and 110 big sized Ganesh idol came for the immersion. During the whole campaign volunteers could manage to reach almost 8000 people. Dr.Vishal Wadekar, Atul Tikhe, Adwait Keole, Amit Wadatkar took painstaking efforts to reach out as many as people we can. The team of 10 volunteers from ECO Club also contributed during this campaign under the guidance of Mr.Prakash Laddha and Ar. Vishal Bansod, Director ANT program.

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