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Thursday, December 1, 2022

No Durga Puja visarjan in any public space including river Yamuna: Delhi

The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) has issued a directive banning immersion of Maa Durga murti in any ‘public place’, including the river Yamuna or any other water body/pond/ghat etc.

Durga puja committees have been directed to perform immersion ‘within the home premises in a bucket/container etc’.

The directive says murti immersion causes silting and toxic chemicals to leach out, which pose a ‘serious problem’ of water pollution. The directive has been issued under the Water Act, 1974 and based on NGT (National Green Tribunal) orders. It also refers to a directive issued by National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG).

A fine of Rs. 50,000 will be levied on violators, it adds.

The DPCC directive says that as per guidelines for phased re-opening issued by Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) order dated 30.09.2021 to extend existing orders issued by Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), social/ political/ sports/ entertainment/ cultural/ religious festivals related gathering and congregations are not permitted and the same needs to be followed in letter & spirit.

In a section titled ‘Directions for Idol Makers/ Sellers of Idols / Persons making Idols in-situ’, it says:

  • ldols should be made traditional clay for only from natural materials as described in the holy scripts. Use of traditional clay for idol is permitted. Uses of baked clay, plaster of paris, etc. in idol making are hereby prohibited.
  • Painting of ldols be discouraged. In case idols are to be natural dyes painted, water soluble and nontoxic only be used. Use of toxic and non-biodegradable chemical dyes for painting idols is strictly prohibited.

It is unfortunate that the Indian State still refers to murtis/vigrahas of Hindu deities as ‘idols’. But when the directive clearly specifies that murtis need to be made from organic and non-toxic material, why is the immersion of even such murtis banned?

The directive further directs municipal bodies and Delhi Police to check the entry of vehicles entering into Delhi carrying “prohibited idols” as its cargo! It asks zonal municipal bodies to take action against “illegal idol making being done without license registration or being done on unauthorized land”. It also ask Delhi Police to take appropriate action against the offenders violating these directions.

So when the DPCC is exercising so much control to prohibit “illegal idols”, why is it disallowing immersion of ‘legal’ murtis? Why can’t the government at least create large artificial immersion tanks for public immersion?

DPCC is a body which comes under the Government of Delhi. It is headed by IAS officer Sanjeev Khirwar who is also the Principal Secretary (Environment & Forest) in Delhi govt. The last annual report that DPCC has uploaded on its site is for 2009-10.

Many netizens are seeing this as yet another talibani diktat of a government body which has failed miserably to control the real cause of water pollution – toxic industrial waste and sewage which flows into the Yamuna, which has already killed the river. Hindu festivals are the easiest punching bag for governments and officials who are failing at their primary jobs.

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