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There are important lessons to be learnt from the recent, 122nd Ganeshotsav. How can we make a difference? Can the next Ganeshotsav be one which is truly eco-friendly? There are more aspects to consider. The Golden Sparrow on Saturday team offers some relevant suggestions

LESSONS TO LEARN from Ganeshotsav 2014 Embrace, popularise eco-friendly idols

According to Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and Pune Police estimates, over 3,40,000 Ganesh idols were immersed in the city’s rivers, canals and water bodies. Th is number is significantly higher than last year. According to report in ‘Pune Mirror’, some PMC officials unthinkingly unloaded truckloads of Ganesh idols in a river. While this may have been an aberration, the PMC also dumped a large number of idols in abandoned stone quarries around the city, as they did in the previously. As citizens we can do the following: a) Purchase or make our own clay (shadu maati) idols b) Use pancha-dhatu (special alloy) idols, or those which need not be immersed c) Immerse clay idols in a bucket of water and water the plants and trees in and around our homes with the same Th is would set a great example for others and it will also prevent pollution of the environment. Do not purchase Plaster of Paris Ganesh idols ever again.



Avoid using gulal

Th is fine, red powder used liberally used to be considered harmless, as it is made from natural, plant-based ingredients. That opinion has changed. Eye surgeons Dr Aditya Kelkar of the National Institute of Ophthalmology has cautioned about serious injuries to the eyes from gulal, owing to the content of hazardous chemicals. The use of gulal is also advised against by civic authorities and voluntary groups. You can do your bit and avert the use of gulal in your own home, your housing society and neighbourhood. Make children, family and friends aware of the hazards of the substance until the use of gulal becomes a thing of the past. City traders say that 200, 25 kg bags of gulal were used by prominent Ganesh mandals, just on the fi rst and last days of Ganeshotsav. One manufacturer used to sell up to 5,000 bags during Ganeshotsav. Th is has now reduced significantly, to about 25 per cent of what it used to be. Pune Mayor Chanchala Kodre came out strongly against the use of gulal, and even ordered the confiscation of gulal from a prominent mandal. Let us all unite against the use of gulal during festivities.

3 4 5 6 Ban loudspeaker stacks

The biggest cause of noise pollution are the towering stacks of loudspeakers, that are currently in vogue, as each mandal tries to drown out the other. The city police have a role to play and must set a limit on decibel levels and bring the offenders to book -- in the interests of averting noise pollution and maintaining peace.

Contribute to good ‘Nirmalya’ management A staggering 177 tonnes of Nirmalya (flower offerings) were prevented from polluting the rivers of Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad by an army of civic officials, waste-pickers from the Kagad Kaach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP), Swach, Rotary Clubs of Pune and volunteers from Cummins, Emcure, Praj Industries, Fergusson College, Modern College, D. Y. Patil College of Pharmacy, and Symbiosis School of Economics among many others.

Reduce road obstruction due to pandals

Some Ganesh mandals put up unauthorised pandals without due permissios from the city police and PMC. The most serious road obstructions were in the old city areas under the jurisdiction of Faraskhana, Vishrambaug, Samarth, and Khadak police stations. Assistant Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Rajendra Joshi told this newspaper that some mandals had occupied as much as 70 per cent of the carriage width of the roads. He said that the movement of Fire Brigade vehicles, ambulances and the state electricity boary was obstructed by such pandals. This state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue. Why are such pandals not removed? How can Ganesh mandals get away with such irresponsible behaviour? Why do the police and civic authorities hesitate to take action against defaulters? We must take action before things reach a point of no return, what with the growing congestion in the city.

Nirmalya was collected systematically from 18 ghats across PMC and PCMC. “The Nirmalya collection drive began from the second day of the festival till the last day of the festival. All collected Nirmalya was sent to sericulture projects of PMC and NGOs,” said Suresh Jagtap, deputy commissioner (Solid waste management), PMC. Th is is an extremely healthy trend and must be strengthened by all of us, year after year.

Do not contribute to noise pollution

Noise levels reached as high as 114 decibels during the main immersion procession on Laxmi Road, when the stipulated limit is 90 decibels. College of Engineering, Pune (COEP) students, who were monitored sound levels, said that the noise pollution was highest between 8 am and 12 noon, during the immersion procession, and wherever loudspeaker stacks were used. The police however, succeeded in keeping decibel levels in check between midnight and 6 am, with the ban of loudspeakers during these hours. We as responsible citizens must play our part by raising our voice against disturbing sound levels, in our housing societies or neighbourhoods.

LET’S APPLAUD THOSE WHO DID GOOD WORK Municipal commissioners of Pune & Pimpri-Chinchwad and their staff for maintaining public health by cleaning work during the festival.

Pune Police Commissioner & Staff for excellent law & order management in the city

The spirit of citizenship and the valuable contribution by voluntary organisations such as DSK Foundation, SWaCH, Rotary Club Pune – Kothrud, Lions Club, students, Chanakya Mandal & Team, Police Mitra Team

The Schools of Pune which conducted Eco-friendly Ganesh idol making workshops for their children and encouraged them to follow eco-friendly methods during the celebrations

And finally, the citizens of Pune who made a departure from the past and made a big difference to the health of our city!

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The Golden Sparrow on Saturday 13/09/2014  

The Golden Sparrow on Saturday 13/09/2014