Officials adopt balance between sentiments, HC verdict on Ganesha immersion

HYDERABAD: Officials are trying their best to achieve a delicate balance between sentiments of a majority of people during the Ganesha idol immersion season and an unambiguous High Court verdict banning the plaster of Paris (PoP) idols, which are environmentally harmful, from being immersed in the Hussainsagar.

The year’s immersion procession, coming ahead of a very emotionally surcharged elections, has brought the civic bodies and other officials to a risk of landing into contempt of court, as there was a clear instruction by the division bench, comprising Chief Justice Alok Aradhe and Justice N.V. Shravan Kumar, which emphatically ruled that the orders passed by the High Court in 2021, prohibiting the immersion of PoP idols in the city’s lakes, were still in force.

Violating the court orders would be taken seriously, the High Court had said. The civic authorities responded by stating that the municipal and other officials, along with the city police, were thoroughly inspecting all idols and verifying which of those were made of PoP. They are ensuring that these are not brought for immersion in the Hussainsagar and are redirected to artificial ponds.

Mamidi Venu Madhav, the petitioner, told Deccan Chronicle, “the court ordered civic authorities to not allow the immersion of PoP idols into the Hussainsagar because by its nature PoP is toxic and pollutes the environment. The Hussainsagar is, ecologically speaking, fragile and it is the duty of the government to save it. Despite High Court orders given in 2021, the bench headed by Justice M.S. Ramchandra Rao and Justice T. Vinod Kumar, not to immerse PoP idols in the Hussainsagar, not much has been done.”

Madhav, an advocate, added, “The Telangana High Court is clearly directing the GHMC not to allow PoP idols to be immersed into Hussainsagar and to make arrangements for artificial ponds for immersion. But we can clearly witness the immersion of hundreds of PoP idols into the lake.”

He said, “The BRS government and the opposition BJP, which have turned hand-in-glove, are putting political pressure on civic bodies to not strictly enforce the restriction. Officials have been reduced to mere spectators. This is a clear case of contempt of court.”

Mahesh Singh Kalakar, an idol-maker from Dhoolpet, said, “This year, the officials have relaxed the norms on using PoP compared to previous year. Last year the authorities strictly stopped us from making PoP idols. The association knocked on the doors of the court and got some temporary relief..”

Dr Bhagwant Rao from te Bhagyanagar Ganesh Utsav Samathi said, “Devotees are as usual installing idols as per government’s instructions. There are not many restrictions imposed on us by the government this year.”

GHMC commissioner Ronald Rose said, “The officials are following all laws. Firstly we have set up several mini ponds to make it easy for people to go about the immersion. Secondly, any idol brought towards the Hussainsagar, the principal immersion point, is being checked by the police. If they are made of PoP, they will be redirected towards the artificial mini ponds.”

  • Legal Battle
  • High Court dealing with a petition filed by Telangana Ganesh Murti Kalakar Welfare Association, Dhoolpet, and eight others, filed in 2022, challenging validity of revised guidelines clause 2.0 issued by the Central Pollution Control Board, New Delhi, which prohibits making and selling PoP idols.
  • In 2021, Telangana High Court directed state government and GHMC to issue a circular by March 31, 2022, banning PoP Ganesha idols, in accordance with Central PCB guidelines. Neither the government nor GHMC complied.
  • When idol-makers came up with PoP idols to sell, GHMC and police raised objections. Challenging them, a petition was filed in 2022 by the idol-makers. Last year, the court had allowed temporary relief for sale of PoP idols but directed that there should be a blanket ban from 2023 onwards.
( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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