Odisha SunTimes Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Sep 13:
With the festive season starting with Ganesh puja round the corner, like every other year, the Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) has imposed restrictions/guidelines on immersion of idols in rivers, ponds and lakes to curb pollution of water bodies.
The OSPCB has written to all district collectors directing them to seriously enforce the restrictions/guidelines imposed earlier in this regard.
The Board has directed collectors to ensure that that places of immersion are not polluted and are cleaned immediately after immersion of idols.
It may be recalled that the state government had issued an order on July 22, 2010 to all district collectors, all puja committees and the OSPCB pertaining to immersion of idols. The letter asked for creation of an artificial pond in the river bed and immersion of all idols therein. Four years have elapsed since the order was issued, but neither the administration nor the puja committees have taken it seriously.
Immersion of hundreds of idols continues mindlessly in rivers, especially Kathajodi, Kuakhai, Daya and Gangua during the puja season.
The situation is no different in urban areas like Rourkela, Sambalpur, Brahmapur, Bhadrak, Puri Baleswar, Baripada and Jeypore. Presence of high levels of copper, zinc, nickel, chromium, lead and other chemicals after immersion of idols is contaminating river water.
While Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD), which is the amount of dissolved oxygen needed by aerobic biological organisms in a body of water to break down organic material present in a given water sample at certain temperature over a specific time period, should be a maximum of one milligram, it often reaches 12 milligram causing serious concern.
According to a senior official of the OSPCB, 1974, a person polluting water is liable for a penalty of Rs 10,000 and imprisonment of three months as per section 41 of ‘The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act. Odisha doesn’t have special laws like the ones like Delhi and Mumbai have pertaining to immersion of idols during the festival season, the official added.
Even Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) authorities have been apprised of the matter, but to no effect, the official said.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has issued a notice to the secretary of the OSPCB on August 12 this year. The CPCB has issued strict instructions to the OPSCB to see to it that water bodies are not polluted due to immersion of idols.