Bengaluru, Karnataka – In a bid to combat environmental damage caused by Plaster of Paris (PoP) idols, the Karnataka government has taken a decisive stance by imposing a comprehensive ban on their manufacture, sale, and immersion. The ban, which encompasses idols created for the Ganesha and Gauri festivals, as well as any PoP idols throughout the state, was officially enforced through a government order dated September 15.
The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) is spearheading the implementation of this ban. It applies immediately and has been communicated to various authorities, including deputy commissioners, department heads, and KSPCB officials.
The decision to prohibit PoP idols stems from the recognition of the significant environmental harm they cause. The immersion of PoP idols in water bodies can lead to reduced dissolved oxygen, increased water hardness, and the release of hazardous heavy metals like mercury, arsenic, lead, chromium, copper, cadmium, cobalt, and zinc, posing a severe threat to aquatic life. Furthermore, the contamination of water can have detrimental health effects on both humans and livestock.
Under Section 15 (1) of the Environment (Protection) Act, those found manufacturing, selling, or immersing PoP idols may face severe penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to Rs 1 lakh for violations related to water pollution.
This is not the first time Karnataka has addressed the issue of PoP idols. In July 2016, the KSPCB had previously banned their manufacture and sale following directives from the National Green Tribunal. However, enforcement has been a challenge, primarily due to a lack of awareness and lax implementation.
In a proactive move to ensure strict compliance with the new ban, Forest Minister Eshwar B Khandre has been actively engaged in meetings with officials from various departments to address the issue.
This decision underscores the government’s unwavering commitment to promoting an eco-friendly Ganesha festival and safeguarding the state’s water bodies from pollution attributed to PoP idols.