With a month to go for Ganesh Chaturthi, Vadodara city police have begun consulting with Ganesh mandals individually to inform them about immersing idols in artificial lakes instead of Sursagar Lake, which is currently being renovated, and also warning them against opting for plaster of paris idols that are taller than nine feet.
While some Ganesh mandals have agreed to the changes, others have their reservations. Pratap Madgha Sarvajanik Ganesh Utsav, a Ganesh mandal that installs their idol at Mangal Bazaar-Lehripura Darwaza in the heart of old Vadodara, is apprehensive about not immersing the idol in Sursagar Lake. They have been immersing their idol in the lake since the last 54 years, and had demanded that an artificial lake should have been constructed close to the lake.
“The decision to not immerse idols in Sursagar Lake was a delayed one and we had no other option but to accept it this year. But, we wouldn’t accept the same arrangement next year. If the authorities impose restrictions (on idol immersion) next year also, we will call off our celebrations,” said Jay Thakkar, a member of the mandal.
On fibre idols, Thakkar said: “The cleaning (of the lakes) should be carried out at regular intervals than waiting for years for the plaster of paris to pile up.”
In a July meeting, the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) had asked 40 mandals in the city to opt for fibre idols as plaster of paris harms the aquatic life. Welcoming the VMC’s decision, Manjalpur Yuva Shakti Charitable Trust, another Ganesh mandal, has decided not to immerse their 22-feet fibre idol in any water body. “We opted for the fibre idol which we will not immerse. Instead we will immerse a smaller idol. We do understand the harmful effects of plaster of paris on the aquatic life. We will cooperate with the VMC,” said Setu Patel, a member of the mandal.
Police claimed that they have not yet faced any opposition from any mandals regarding changes in immersion routes or on idols. “We held personal consultations (with the mandals) at police stations. So far all the mandals have agreed to the decision. Many of them have even agreed to opt for idols shorter than nine feet. For those who haven’t agreed, we are yet to decide what can be done because immersion will be difficult for taller idols,” said Joint Commissioner of Police, K G Bhati.