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Immersion under tribunal lens

KOLKATA: The tradition of immersing idols may soon be ripped off puja celebrations with theNational Green Tribunal (NGT) taking cognizance of an application by environment activist Subhas Datta, seeking a ban on this ‘method’. Datta refuses to call idol immersion a ‘ritual’.

In his application, the activist claimed that the ‘ritual part of immersion’ is completed at the place
of worship itself. According to him, immersion processions and the ‘throwing’ of idols into rivers have now become superfluous, gorgeous, colourful, competitive and polluting, which aren’t backed by religious necessity.

Datta’s application was backed by an Allahabad high court order that banned immersions in Ganga and Yamuna rivers from 2014. He contended before the NGT that uniformity needs to be maintained so far as pollution of rivers is concerned. If immersions are banned in Uttar Pradesh, it wouldn’t make sense to allow them in Bengal.

“In 2000, Calcutta high court directed that the idols be removed from the water immediately after they are immersed. The West Bengal Pollution Control Board also directed that rivers be cleaned within 24 hours after immersion. Though the Kolkata Port Trust, Kolkata Municipal Corporation, 41 other civic bodies and the police are making efforts to lift idols from the water immediately after they are immersed, Datta pointed out that some of them continue to float for considerable period of time,” Datta submitted.

The green activist went on to state that a practical, pragmatic and well-accepted Standard Operating Procedure to handle the immersion of idols across the country is required. As religious sentiments as well as social and environmental concerns are involved, suggestions can be obtained from religious leaders, environment activists, scientists, social activists and legal experts, Datta submitted.

The NGT took cognizance of the matter and directed that notices be served to all concerned. The matter will come up for hearing on December 5.
 

The Times of India (24-10-2013)