While clay idols can dissolve within hours after it is immersed in water, Plaster of Paris idols can take months or even years to fully dissolve.
The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-National Chemical Laboratory (CSIR-NCL) has launched a mobile van service that will offer door-to-door Ganesh visarjan. The efforts are part of promoting an environment-friendly immersion among residents.
The Pune-based institute has joined hands with Ujjivan Bank for the initiative, The Indian Express reported. The mobile van has an eco-friendly pond installed. The van will ferry the pond across the city during the main immersion days of the 10-day festival.
The institute has been distributing ammonium bicarbonate since 2016 for eco-friendly immersions, The Indian Express reported. When put in water, ammonium bicarbonate helps dissolve Ganesh idols made from Plaster of Paris.
While the is growing awareness about the environmental problems that idol immersions in natural bodies can create, many people still prefer the traditional practice. Plaster of Paris, which are used to make the idols, do not occur naturally. While clay idols can dissolve within hours after it is immersed in water, Plaster of Paris idols can take months or even years to fully dissolve. Additionally, the idols are decorated with chemical paints. Many of these paints contain heavy metals, including lead and mercury, which mix with the water as the idol starts to dissolve. The toxic mix can stay in the water body for years, leaving a lasting impact on the ecosystem.
Some people are taking an eco-friendly approach and making a greener choice during idol selection. Taking the pressure off traditional water bodies that already suffer from the daily discharge of industrial effluents, sewage, plastic and other waste products is a viable alternative. Instead of immersing the idols in these water bodies and adding to their burden, creating tanks or similar arrangements for immersion at individual households can take the load off the water bodies.
In this aspect, CSIR-NCL’s initiative could turn out to be a big boost for the city’s water bodies.