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Activist voices concern for Ganga

KOLKATA: Activist Subhas Datta will move theNational Green Tribunal on Monday, urging that a committee be set up to find an eco-friendly alternative to the custom of idol immersion in river Ganga.

The Allahabad high court, on October 7, banned immersion in the 
Ganga from next year to curb pollution. "Only a few hundred Durga Puja are held in Allahabad and Lucknow, but in Bengal more than 100,000 idols are immersed downstream during Durga Puja and several lakh more at other festivals. Unless we find an alternative, the Allahabad court's directive may not clean up the river," said Datta.

Aware that changing a religious custom that has been practiced for centuries is a sensitive matter, Datta wants religious leaders to be part of the committee that decided the new process along with environment experts. "We did find an alternative to goat sacrifice during Kali puja. Now, vegetables are 'sacrificed'," he pointed out.

It was Datta's PIL that led to a court order in 2001 for immersed idols to be removed from the river within 24 hours. But it took nearly a decade to implement the order as Kolkata Port Trust and Kolkata Municipal Corporation initially refused to shoulder the responsibility

. In 2010, the two agencies finally joined hands - KoPT removed the structures from the water and KMC carried them away from the riverbanks.

"It is time to take a step forward and have a symbolic immersion instead of actually submerging the idols in water. We want to arrive at a well-accepted, practical and pragmatic solution," Datta said.
 

The Times of India (17-10-2013)