Amid Covid, no idol immersion at public areas on Ganesh Chaturthi in Delhi
New Delhi, Aug 16: There will be no large congregations, community celebrations or idol immersion at public places on Ganesh Chaturthi in the national capital this year in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Delhi Pollution Control Committee.
A fine of Rs 50,000 will be imposed on violators, it said.
This year, the festival will be celebrated on August 22.
Idol immersion in the Yamuna river was banned following an order by the National Green Tribunal in 2015.
Last year, the Delhi government had created artificial ponds at public places for people to immerse idols on Ganesh Chaturthi and Durga Puja.
"Idol immersion in artificial ponds, too, is not allowed this time as large gatherings will increase the risk of virus transmission," a DPCC official said.
Community celebrations cannot happen as large congregations are prohibited by the government in view of the pandemic, he said.
The pollution control body has asked residents to perform the idol immersion ritual in a bucket or container at home.
The Delhi Police and civic bodies have been directed to check the entry of vehicles carrying idols into the city.
Idol makers and sellers have been directed to use natural material "as described in the holy scripts" like traditional clay to make idols.
"The use of baked clay and plaster of Paris is prohibited," the DPCC said.
"Painting of idols should be discouraged. In case idols are to be painted, only water-soluble and non-toxic natural dyes should be used," it said.
Paints, colours and dyes used in making idols contain hazardous chemicals such as mercury, zinc oxide, chromium, lead and cadmium which harm aquatic life and can cause cancer, respiratory ailments and skin infections among humans.
Several studies conducted to assess the impact of idol immersion have revealed deterioration of water quality in terms of conductivity, biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and heavy metal concentration.
BOD is the amount of oxygen required by bacteria to decompose organic matter in water. Clean water has a BOD value of less than 5 ppm, whereas highly polluted water has a BOD value of 17 ppm or more.