The Vinayaka Chaturthi festival is about three weeks away and soon we'll see hundreds of idols of Lord Ganesha installed on make-shift platforms all over the twin cities. Most of these, as we know, are made from plaster of paris and coated with paint made from lead-based chemicals.
For more than three decades now, idols made from plaster of paris and painted with toxic substances are being installed in all neighbourhoods of the twin cities and leave alone the educated, even the uninformed are unaware of the dangers this poses to our environment. While awareness on the need to install idols of clay is growing, we have not even scratched the surface as far as public understanding of the problem goes. Educating the public on making environmental friendly idols should start with schools and instead of leaving it to others, we need to form volunteer groups and take up this activity.
The other issue relates to immersion. The government and political parties alike have conventionally shied away from taking any strong stand on dissuading local groups from immersing the idols in Hussain Sagar, which is already a highly polluted lake, thanks the effluents that are released into it by industrial units, a menace that has remained unchecked. Hundreds of idols wind their way to the lake beginning with some of the smaller-sized ones. An alternative has to be thought of before the lake becomes even more threatened.
Life comes to a complete stand-still on the final immersion day when all arterial roads get completely blocked on account of the long procession.Law and order is the third dimension which assumes great significance during these ten days. Police become extra vigilant, especially against the backdrop of terrorist threats. There have been instances of rioting and skirmishes in the past and the police is usually on its toes when the procession winds its way through certain sensitive parts of the old city.
This year, let us hope that more neighbourhood groups and associations decide to install eco-friendly idols of Lord Ganesha.