The Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has formed a committee, headed by Additional Chief Secretary, Departments of Environment, Climate Change and Forests, to simplify guidelines for idol immersion during Vinayaka Chaturthi in consonance with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) guidelines and enforce them in all districts.
A petition filed by a resident of Chennai, Hariharan, in the tribunal sought prohibition of immersion of idols in waterbodies to avoid contamination and a direction to create artificial ponds for immersion in compliance with the guidelines of the CPCB.
In its ‘Revised Guidelines for Idol Immersion’, the CPCB states that as far as possible, idol immersion shall be encouraged only at designated artificial confined tanks.
“In cases where immersion in rivers, lakes and ponds is inevitable, arrangements may be made for construction of temporary confined areas of adequate capacity at designated places with earthen bunds, at least 50 m away from the waterbody,” it said.
Noting that there was already an application against contamination of the Samalapuram lake in Tiruppur over idol immersion, the Bench — comprising Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana and expert member Satyagopal Kolarpati — said that when idols were immersed in artificial lakes, the remnants could be collected and disposed of. However, when they are immersed in waterbodies, they float away or get washed ashore.
The NGT Bench observed that the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court had already passed an order to incorporate the revised guidelines of the CPCB, and that the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) had sent a communication to the district authorities asking them to follow the guidelines. But to ensure that they were implemented, the Bench ordered that a committee comprising Secretary, Public Department; Additional Chief Secretary, Revenue Administration; and Chairman, TNPCB, be constituted.
“As the festival is fast approaching and in Tamil Nadu, it is already proposed that it will be celebrated on September 18, 2023, let the authorities take the necessary action in this regard,” it said.