KOLKATA: As soon as civic workers immersed the idol into the Ganges, a herculean crane moved into action. Before the colourful countenance could disappear in the water, the crane retrieved it and hovelled it in an isolated corner. As soon as the crane retreated, a large vehicle picked up it up and loaded onto a lorry.

The same sequence played out several hundred times throughout Thursday at Baje Kadamtala Ghat on strand Road where the immersion process was on. The elaborate logistical arrangements that included a proper plan, several heavy vehicles, police deployment and co-operation from the organisers ensured that the immersion of several hundred idols did not pollute the river.

Since morning even before the immersion process started, close to 50 lorries of the KMC lined up the Strand Road. A barge mounted crane was stationed close to the ghat to chip in during any emergency. Eight cranes and six JCBs worked round the clock picking up the idols from the river and putting them on the lorries. Close to two hundred civic workers were also present.

Green activists have campaigned that plaster of paris, baked clay and various toxic chemicals used on idols, shoals to make the crown and other items that adorn them pollute the water, affecting the aquatic ecosystem and posing long term health hazards.

Member mayor in council Debashish Kumar who visited the ghats along Strand Road in the morning said that the civic body has made adequate arrangements to expedite the immersion process without causing any pollution to the river.

“The idols are being retrieved as soon as they are immersed in the water. Civic workers and divers are present there who are keeping an eye so that idols do not drift in the water,” said Kumar.

In 2002-03, Central Pollution Control Board had recommended earmarking of areas and restricting immersions to a confined water body. Prodded by the high court, the state pollution control board in the 2004 directive asked puja organisers to retrieve waste from the river after immersion and observed that municipal authorities might realise a cleaning cost from puja organisers.

The civic body enforced the rule strictly this time. Whenever a vehicle carrying a deity stopped on the road leading to Baje Kadamtala Ghat, a small group of men rushed and dismounted the idol. It was then taken to a designated spot where leaves, flowers, garlands, earthenware and other puja refuse were removed and dumped in an isolated area away from the river.

“The refuse retrieved from the ghats are being taken to the Dhapa dumping ground,” said an official of the conservancy department.

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