Telangana HC bans immersion of Ganesh idols made of POP in Hussain Sagar Lake

The Telangana High Court has banned the immersion of Ganesh idols made of plaster of paris (POP) in Hussain Sagar Lake and other lakes in the city keeping in mind pollution of the Hussain Sagar Lake as well as the Covid-19 pandemic. 

A bench led by the Acting Chief Justice M.S. Ramachandra Rao and Justice T. Vinod Kumar has passed the directions while hearing the contempt case alleging wilful disobedience of order dated 10.09.2013 in WP No 25058 of 2011 passed by a division bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court. 

The bench of Telangana High Court has passed the slew of directions including;  Permission for immersion of POP Ganesh idols (i) in baby ponds already constructed by the GHMC or (ii) separate areas / ponds which do not result / spread the water pollution into the main water body. It also directed the Respondent authorities to explore the use of inflatable rubber dam wall as was used while carrying on dredging operations in the Hussain Sagar Lake earlier by encircling the area for immersion of idols as an alternative. It directed that authorities shall not permit immersion of Ganesh idols from the Tank Bund side of the Hussain Sagar Lake. Further, immersion can be permitted by respondent Nos.1 to 11 of non- POP idols which do not have synthetic paint only through the other side of the Hussain Sagar Lake for example, P.V.Ghat, Secretariat road, Sanjeevaiah Park road etc.

The Court has further directed:

Use of low height and eco-friendly idols shall be encouraged to avoid impact on the environment and also to carry out rituals in simple and easy manner without gathering of large crowds;

License/Permits may be limited to fixed number of Pandals in their respective areas by the Local / Urban Bodies;

Respondent Nos.1 to 11 shall regulate the number of idols, area- wise, coming to Hussain Sagar Lake for immersion on the last day;

Simple and quiet celebrations should be encouraged instead of cultural or entertainment programs with large congregations during festival period;

Public Pandals may be advised to switch over to online Darshan or relay the celebrations through social media platforms, websites or local cable television networks;

Household immersion of small Ganesh idols at the respective homes of devotees in a eco-friendly manner i.e. in a bucket filled with water, should be encouraged; and

Temporary idol immersion ponds/tanks with proper liner may be provided to avoid large gatherings at same place.

The GHMC (10th respondent) shall make available masks free of cost in adequate number on the last day of immersion of Ganesh idols in the Hussain Sagar lake.

Furthermore, it has directed the Commissioner of Police, Hyderabad (9th respondent) shall also instruct all Station House Officers and Divisional Police Officers to ensure

(a) Large Congregations do not take place at places where festivities are being celebrated and should fix the maximum number of people who can congregate at a particular time within a Pandal;

(b) Wearing of masks and mandate the organizers of festivities to provide sufficient sanitizers;

(c) after coordinating with concerned Departments, timely removal, transportation and disposal of the remains of the idols and other waste material from the Hussain Sagar Lake immediately after immersion as is being done every year;

(e) adequate number of Police personnel are engaged to enforce social distancing as far as possible and also to avoid any law and order problems;

(f) that there is no playing of loud music in the Ganesh Pandals so that there is no disturbance to neighbours / students/people who are unwell. Use of loudspeakers should not be permitted after 10 p.m.;

(g) that Ganesh Pandals are not set up on the roads obstructing smooth flow of traffic.

(h) that appropriate Fire Safety Equipment has been provided at all Ganesh Pandals by the organisers.

The Court has noted, “Recently, the Tank Bund of the Hussain Sagar Lake was renovated with new pavements, gardens, vintage lamp posts and beautified by spending considerable public money. If immersion is permitted by erecting cranes on this road on the Tank Bund of the said Lake, it would result in damage all the new fittings and further expenditure would require to be incurred by the State to restore status quo ante. Therefore, we direct the respondent Nos.1 to 11 not to permit immersion of Ganesh idols from the Tank Bund side of the Hussain Sagar Lake.”

“That apart, Covid-19 pandemic is still continuing and there is a risk of events such as Ganesh immersion taking place at a single place such as Hussain Sagar Lake turning into Super Virus Spreader event because even vaccinations available currently do not offer complete immunity to the virus, which is said to be mutating into variants, some of whom are more virulent. The scientific community is predicting a third wave of the pandemic in this month or October, 2021,” the Court has said. 

The Court has passed these directions in the Contempt Case filed In the Writ Petition, filed by one, who is an Advocate and a Social Worker, complained of the action of the respondents therein in permitting immersion of all types of idols including idols made with Plaster of Paris (POP) in the Hussain Sagar Lake and sought protection of the said lake from water pollution.

He alleged that idols were being manufactured with POP and hazardous chemicals to a length ranging from 6 inches to more than 5 ft height using iron fabrication, that synthetic paints were being used, that idols made of POP will not melt in water upto 2 months and water pollution is caused by immersion of such idols in the Hussain Sagar Lake. He pointed out that the immersion of idols also entails much expenditure to the State Government towards security arrangements, hiring cranes and it would be better if people were to be encouraged to use clay idols and immerse them in their own residences so as to reduce the pollution in the said Lake. He pointed out that the air quality near the Hussain Sagar Lake is poor and the water therein is unusable and sometimes there is foul small as well.


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