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Odisha regulatory body concerned over water pollution post immersion

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Reported by Santosh Jagdev
Bhubaneswar, Oct 4:

While the police and administration in the Odisha capital claim to be fully prepared to ensure the immersion of the idols of Goddess Durga, marking the end of puja festivities, passes off peacefully, there is no system in place to counter the negative and harmful effects it will entail, especially its impact on the waters of Daya and Kuakhai rivers, where nearly 170 idols would be dumped in quick succession.

(Source- AP )
(Source- AP )

Sources said, the authorities concerned have not taken care to see that the idols are prepared in compliance with the water pollutions norms and without the use of harmful chemicals and other stuff that contribute to a sudden increase in the level of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) in the river water.

Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) has prepared a clearcut guideline to guard against river pollution. But the implementing agencies, as it appears, prefer to ignore this.

The OSPCB, has served a notice to the district administration and BMC officials to abide by their guideline during the immersion of idols, H B Panigrahi, OSPCB regional officer told OST.

“Earlier we had asked all the puja committees to ban the use of Plaster of Paris (POP) in the making of idols because it increases the level of BOD in river water,” the OSPCB official said.

“Idols in Bhubaneswar are not made of the harmful POP. They are mainly made of clay and straw. But the idol makers usually use harmful chemical colours instead of natural ones, which affects the river water the most, he said.

The huge quantity of non-biodegradable materials like chemical paints, plastic covers, jari and thermocol used in the entire Medha and other decorative pieces are dumped into the river along with the idols, thus causing water pollution in a big way, Panigrahi pointed out.

It is up to the concerned district administration and municipal bodies to enforce the guidelines of the Board which state that urban local bodies should be well prepared to remove all idols from the rivers within 48 hours of the immersion. The guidelines also prevent use of baked clay, POP, toxic and non-degradable chemical and materials and removal of artificial objects, flowers, clothes and decorative materials before the immersion of the idols.

Panigrahi said the annual average BOD level in city rivers was found to be a whopping 12.4 mg per litre as against the tolerance limit of less than 1 mg per litre.

There are a total of 167 puja pandals in the capital city this year – 57 of them belong to the ‘A’ category, 65 to ‘B’ category and 47 to the ‘C’ category.