Jamshedpur : Swelling rivers which had crossed danger mark on Dashami are still roaring. Like every past years this year too the Durga idol immersion has led to the pollution of even the few water bodies of the city, making the water hazardous for use. The experts have expressed their concern over the negligence.
There are two major rivers of the city, river Subarnarekha and Kharkai and as these are located close to the town, most of the Durga idols have been immersed in these rivers.
For some years now there is a growing awareness about the water pollution caused by the immersion of Durga idols made out of plaster of Paris, in natural water bodies such as lakes, rivers and the sea.
Plaster of Paris is not a naturally occurring material. It is a calcium sulfate hemi-hydrate derived from gypsum, a calcium sulfate dihydrate, by firing this mineral at relatively low temperature and then reducing it to powder.
While idols made out of naturally occurring clay dissolve within hours of immersion in water, plaster of Paris idols may take anywhere between several months to years to fully dissolve.
In addition, when chemical paints are used to decorate the idols, these paints contain heavy metals such as mercury and lead, which seep into the water as the idol dissolves.
Pollution is also caused by the waste generated by the non biodegradable accessories used during the worship.
According to experts after the immersion of idols and flowers on Wednesday, the level of impurities in the water rose considerably.
“Immersion of idols, flowers and other material of religious significance lead to pollution and a lot of these things block the filters of the water treatment plants. Because the quantity of pollutants is so high,” noted a pollution board official.
Elaborately painted and decorated idols are worshipped before they are taken during mass processions to rivers, lakes and the sea, where they are immersed in accordance with Hindu faith. Paints contain metals like mercury, cadmium and lead, which can pass up the food chain from fish to human beings, he said.
Environmentalists said materials like plaster of Paris do not dissolve easily and reduce the oxygen level in the water, resulting in the deaths of fish and other aquatic organisms.
Traditionally, idols were made from mud and clay and vegetable-based dyes were used to paint them.
Senior officials of Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board said that as per norms, traditional clay should be used for making idols rather than baked clay. It also prohibits the use of toxic and non-degradable chemical dyes and instead prescribes natural colours used in food products.
The guidelines also dictated that flowers, cloths and decorations should be removed and collected for separate disposal before immersion. Also, the leftover material at the immersion sites should be collected by local civic bodies within 24 hours after the ceremony.