Hyderabad: The Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APCCB) and the National Green Corps (NGC) here have launched a spirited campaign to promote the use of eco-friendly clay idols during the coming Ganesh festival.
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated on a massive scale in Andhra Pradesh with about 50,000 pandals being set up in Hyderabad alone every year, Bhagwanta Rao, a leader of Bhagyanagar Ganesh Utsav Samiti, told reporters.
The idols, mostly made of plaster of Paris in various sizes, are immersed at Hussain Sagar and other lakes in Hyderabad, which leads to pollution in water bodies.
APCCB officials told PTI that they have communicated to the District Collectors about the guidelines of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for idol immersion.
The guidelines include erecting barricades or artificial liners under the water surface to collect the idols and other pooja material so that waste can be taken out for disposal.
Stream classification is required to avoid contamination of drinking water source, the guidelines say.
The officials of the Board would hold a meeting with idol makers, the Ganesh Utsav Committee members and other stakeholders to spread awareness regarding use of eco-friendly idols and natural colours to protect the water bodies from various types of pollution.
The Board would also conduct a series of mass awareness programmes in 150 schools and colleges from August 20 in association with the WWF-India and Centre for Environment Education in Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy and Medak districts and the cities of Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam and Kakinada, the officials said.
The students would be taught making Ganesh idols using clay and the need to use natural colours instead of synthetic colours and plaster of Paris.
The Board has proposed to distribute 50,000 "paryavarana Ganapati" (eco-friendly Ganapati) idols of 7 to 9 inches for Rs five and also for distributing certain limited number of clay idols to the residents in Hyderabad.
Meanwhile, the National Green Corps (NGC) in the state would also conduct workshops for students and teachers of about 400 schools in Hyderabad on making clay idols from August 22 and August 31.
The NGC has already conducted a workshop for 70 students from all over the state on making of clay idols and they would, in turn, train others in their native places.
The NGC partners with 46 NGOs from across the state for making 5-ft tall clay idols, NGC`s Project Officer G Padma said.
The NGC also passes on information to the Forest Department offices in the districts for growing a wide variety of plants, whose leaves are used in worshipping Lord Ganesha, she said.