With the festival season fast approaching, the state government remains ill-prepared on the issue of immersion of idols in the rivers, regarding which the Allahabad High Court had issued directions to it nearly a year ago.
In its directive, passed on October 12, 2013, the court had asked district administrations to formulate plans for the cleaning of river while also identifying and developing alternative sites for the immersion of idols before the next festival season, but not only there has been no progress in several districts, many, and Allahabad in particular, the exercise drive is yet to be taken up.
Reminding the state government of the court’s directive and of the approaching festival season, Varanasi-based Ganga Mahasabha, founded by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, recently wrote to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, asking him to pay attention to this crucial issue.
“There are still around 45 days left (for the Pujas). The state government has to show its commitment towards the promise it made before the Allahabad High Court,” said mahasabha general secretary Swami Jitendranand Saraswati.
The situation, reportedly, is no different in Varanasi, the constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In Allahabad, over a hundred puja pandals are set up within the city area alone. Averaging around five idols per pandals, there will be nearly 5,000 idols ready to be immersed by the end of the festival celebrations.
In Varanasi, Saraswati says, the number of pandals is in thousands. “Various methods of immersion will have to be adopted to protect the rivers. Enamel paint is used in a large number of idols and, therefore, immersing them in the river should be strictly banned.”
Additional District Magistrate (City), Allahabad, S K Sharma, said: “A meeting has been held in this regard. All the SDMs have been directed to work with the gram pradhans and other officials to identify alternative sites in the rural areas. Another meeting is being scheduled to identify site for the idols in the urban areas. We are committed to follow the high court order.”
Sharma, however, added that the proposals for identifying the alternative sites and developing them had been sent to the state administration by various departments like irrigation, municipal bodies and Jal Nigam. However, there has been no release of funds so far.
“In the little time left, it may not be possible to utilise the funds even if it is released at this stage,” he said.