THE National Green Tribunal Tuesday asked the Pune Municipal Corporation, the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation and the district collector, among others, to attend an urgent hearing in response to an environment interest litigation (EIL), seeking ban on immersion of Ganesh idols in rivers and wells. The hearing is slated for September 24.
The EIL was filed by Shivani Kulkarni at NGT, Western Zone, Pune, through advocate Asim Sarode, advocate Pratap Vitankar and Mrunalini Shinde.
Sarode said the NGT will decide on Thursday whether releasing 2 to 4 TMC water from Khadakwasala dam for Ganapati immersion would be proper and rational in the background of serious drought situation and drinking water crisis.
After the first hearing Tuesday, taking serious cognisance of the subject-matter, a bench of Justice Vikas Kingaonkar and Ajay Deshpande issued notices to the respondents (civic bodies), directing them to be present on Thursday. The district collector, Water Resources Department, the commissioners of Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad civic bodies, the State of Maharashtra (through its Ministry of Environment and Forest), Maharashtra Pollution Control Board and the commissioner of police have been listed as the respondents in the petition.
The EIL mentioned that every year Ganesh idols were immersed in water bodies, including rivers, lakes, ponds and wells. “Consequent pollution of such water bodies has been a matter of concern. In addition to silting, toxic chemicals used to make idols tend to leach out and pose serious problems of water pollution. Studies carried out to assess deterioration of water quality due to immersion of idols have revealed that water quality deteriorates in various respects, eg. biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and concentration of heavy metals as well as total dissolved solids (TDS),” the EIL stated.
The pollution from immersion of such idols, the EIL stated, also damaged the ecosystem, killed fish and other marine life, and posed danger to those dependent on water such as birds, animals and human beings. The EIL raised serious concerns in the backdrop of the unforeseen drought situation this year.
“The petition is specifically to have directions from the NGT that no water shall be discharged from Khadkwasala dam for immersion of idols and it amounts to insult of the citizens basic right to have good drinking water,” said advocate Sarode.
Sarode added that though the Water Resources Department (Irrigation Department) was generally responsible to take decision about use of any dam water, this year, considering the drought and shortage of drinking water the state government had given decision making powers to the collector. “The collector of Pune will be taking a decision on how much water shall be released from Khadakwasala Dam on the 10th day, Anant Chaturdashi, for Ganpati immersion. The rivers in Pune are already dying and there is urgent need to take steps for survival of the rivers. The dams which provide drinking water to Pune do not have enough water and hence water is being provided on alternate days to the residents,” said Sarode.
“It is not rational, prudent and judicious to pollute/damage/destroy an already scarce commodity. Once the water which is drinkable is released from Khadakwasla Dam then it will become useless for any drinking purpose. We must stop the illiterate attitude towards water and understand that not releasing any water for immersion and using artificial ponds built up by the PMC for immersion is the only solution,” said Sarode.