With just a night left for Ganesh Puja, the preparations are now going on in full swing in Odisha. However, row over the height and distorted Ganesh idols has dampened the festive mood to a great extent.
Idol makers and puja committee members are in a state of worry after Orissa High Court declined to intervene in the matter. Moreover, puja organisers are now left in quandary over the orders by State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) to limit the height of Ganesh idols to 20 feet.
Most of the puja committees have already constructed Ganesh idols of over 50 ft in height. The Badagada Bright Star Club has constructed a 51-ft Ganesh idol, the Akhandalamani Club has built a 50-ft idol at Nayapalli Nuasahi, Shahid Nagar Winner Club has made a 46-ft Vinayak idol and Sailashree Vihar phase – 2 Tala Padia Club has built a 40-ft Ganesh idol.
However, this is against the rules and regulations of SPCB. As per the rules, every Puja Committee that organises the festivals and makes the idols in pandals raised by it, shall have to submit a declaration before the respective local body specifying that eco- friendly idols shall be used, no POP shall be used in the making of the idol as well as in the super-structure, no synthetic paint or colour containing toxic heavy metals like mercury, cadmium, arsenic, lead, and chromium shall be used in the making of idols, the height of the idols shall be limited to 20 feet and the height of the super-structure of the idol shall be limited to 40 feet.
However, the Puja Committee members claimed that they were unaware of the rules and regulations as the Ganesh Puja had not been held for the last two years due to Covid-19 restrictions. With just a night left for the festive season to begin, they have requested the state government for relaxation this year.
Badagad Bright Star Club member Debasish Nayak said, “We cannot do anything now as the idols have already been constructed since a month. Artists are now giving final touches to their idols. So, we request the government to give us relaxation this year. We will follow and abide by the rules and regulations from next year.”
Similarly, Sagar Balabantray, secretary of Nayapalli Akhandalamani Club said, “There will be pollution even if the idols are 20 feet. But, our 50 feet Ganesh idol is eco-friendly. We don’t need any waterbody for the immersion. We will immerse it here. We will spray water and the idol will be immersed here. No chemicals or synthetic paint or toxic materials have been used.”
Similarly, Butu, a member of Sailashree Vihar Tala Padia Club said, “We will call the fire brigade vehicle and conduct the immersion of idol here itself. The immersion and procession will be completed here. We won’t take it to any waterbody. So, there is no question of pollution.”
When contacted an environmentalist was of the opinion that there would be a rise in water pollution that might be harmful to aquatic animals.
“When the idols are immersed, the water is polluted due to the chemicals and polluted items used to paint the idols. So, we should spread awareness and try to stop the pollution,” said Jayakrushna Panigrahi, an Environmentalist.
On the other hand, idol makers in Cuttack are a worried lot after the High Court refused to intervene in connection with the distorted Ganesh idols. Police summoned a few idol makers and asked them to demolish the idols.
With just a night left for the Ganesh Puja, artisans are working tirelessly to reconstruct the idols after a warning from Soumendra Priyadarshi, Cuttack-Bhubaneswar Police Commissioner.
“The High Court refused to intervene which means it wants everyone to follow the rules and not make distorted Ganesh idols. So, this will be followed strictly and action will be taken in this regard,” said Priyadarshi.
“By the time, the administration came out with the rules, we had already constructed the idols. But, we talked to them and are now making the necessary changes. We just have a night left and we are working tirelessly to finish it before time and send the idols for worship tomorrow morning,” said Smrutiranjan Jena, member of Biswarup Club, Cuttack.