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AFTER the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) joined hands with the National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) to resolve the issue of getting the plaster-of-paris Ganesh idols dissolved in water to check the pollution of water bodies, the city unit of Hindu Janjagruti Samiti staged a protest outside the civic headquarters on Wednesday to oppose the initiative, calling it an “improper way” to treat the idols and a practice against religious beliefs.

 

The members of the samiti staged a protest outside the PMC headquarters in the afternoon and submitted a memorandum to Mayor Prashant Jagtap as well as Additional Municipal Commissioner Prerna Deshbhratar, demanding scrapping of the plan of using ammonium bicarbonate to get the idols dissolved in water.

“The decision to promote use of chemical powder ammonium bicarbonate to dissolve Ganesh idols would hurt the religious feelings of the Hindus. The PMC commissioner and mayor should have consulted the Hindu religious scholar before taking such a decision,” said Parag Gokhale, convener of the samiti.

The samiti raised slogans against the PMC commissioner and the mayor, demanding their resignations. “As per religious practice, the Ganesh idol should be immersed in flowing water. The PMC has been promoting use of artificial tanks, citing pollution of the river and water bodies. Now, they have gone a step ahead, using chemicals for the purpose. This would not be tolerated and the Samiti would oppose it,” he added.

“There has been a water shortage in the last few years. However, this year becausee of sufficient rainfall, a lot of water from the dam is being released in the rivers. Therefore, there would be no shortage of water for immersions. The PMC should not ask citizens to immerse the idols in artificial tanks,” Gokhale said.

BJP corporator Yogesh Tilekar said, “PMC was promoting a wrong practice of immersing Ganesh idols in artificial tanks with chemical powder mix in water. This is wrong and should not be done.”

The local Shiv Sena unit too has opposed the move, with party leader Shyam Deshpande joining the protest with the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti. “PMC does not feel the need to consult Hindu scholars before taking the decision. We would oppose the use of ammonium bicarbonate for dissolving Ganesh idols.”

In a bid to encourage city residents to avoid natural water bodies for immersing Ganesh idols, PMC had decided to distribute a bag of 2 kg of ammonium bicarbonate to each household on demand for immersing and dissolving the idol in a bucket or a drum full of water.

“The civic body has decided to purchase 100 tonnes of ammonium carbonate for distributing it among city residents for Ganesh idol immersion at their respective houses. PMC would incur the expenditure for the purpose as it is in the interest of protecting the environment,” said Balasaheb Bodke, chairperson of standing committee.