At a time when common people and environmentalists believe that burning of any kind of wood increases pollution, a bizarre event in Meerut is turning heads. The strange event is being organised by the members of the Shri Ayutchandi Mahayagya Samiti in which around 350 Brahmins from Varanasi gathered on Sunday morning to begin a nine-day long ‘Mahayagya’ in Meerut’s Bhaisali ground. According to organizers, the flames from the 108 hawan-kunds at the ground will reduce air pollution. The Mahayagya will continue daily till March 26 from 8 am to 7 pm. The most striking part of the ‘Mahayagya’ is that it would burn 500 quintals of mango tree wood during this Navratri period to ‘curb pollution’.
As per The Indian Express, during this event by Shri Ayutchandi Mahayagya Samiti, one crore offerings to fire will be made by priests who have come from Varanasi and Vrindavan. Along with mango wood, sesame, rice, jaggery, and tins of desi ghee will be also used in the Yagya. Girish Bansal, vice-president of the Samiti, was quoted as saying that the scriptures dictate that hawan is dome for the purification of air, and this would result in reducing the air pollution considerably. He said that the Samiti is doing its bit for the mankind, flora, fauna and the environment. Bansal said that the hawan was planned in October last year and the mahayagna will help in preserving the ozone layer in India. Another member Om Prakash, who is the religious head at the venue, said that the smoke from the hawan is not harmful because of ingredients used. He claimed the desi ghee has come from desi cows in Karnal. And the smoke is not like the one from factories, it’s pure.
But, environmentalists are completely in opposition to the theory used for curbing air pollution. Sunita Narain of Centre for Science and Environment was quoted as saying that burning biomass can only add to the air pollution. R K Tyagi, regional officer of UPPCB in Meerut also denied commenting on the matter and was quoted as saying that as there is no policy under which a probe can be issued in this matter, there isn’t much that can be done.