Inspite of the wide publicity given to the public not to use Ganesha idols made of Plaster of Paris(PoP), the city is still getting a regular supply of such idols from Mumbai along with paper mache idols (prepared by crushing paper) from neighboring Tamil Nadu.
The other worrisome thing is that majority of the big idols of Ganesha are immersed in rivers (Cauvery, Kabini) at the nearest spot is at Sangama, Nanjangangud, and at ponds, canals.
Mysuru being awarded as the cleanest city in the country for two consecutive times, and it seems the concerned authorities have not taken it seriously for the serious environmental pollution such PoP idols may cause. The Mysuru City Corporation seems to have turned a blind eye, only by confiscating a couple of idols here and there.
City's environmental activists are angry over the attitude of the MCC and officials of pollution control board for not taking enough steps to curb the practice. They insist that a huge amount of fine should be collected from the retailers who sell such idols and a strict vigil should be maintained against such environmental violations. While some suggested construction temporary water tanks near Sangam for immersion of PoP idols and demanded to impose a ban on immersion of any type of idols in river bodies.
“If the officials act strictly we all can celebrate a green Ganesha festival. Without yielding to pressure from any quarters they should seize all such Pop Ganesha idols” says Jayaramaiah, Convenor of Save Kukkarahalli Campaign.
KSPCB Senior Environment Officer KM Lingaraju said that a week prior to festival big size idols of PoP flood in market, and following social issues it has become challenging to take action. 'Unlike clay, the PoP idols won't dissolve in water, and will be harm for water bodies and environment. We request people to avoid purchase of PoP idols and opt for clay idols.' While,
MCC Health Officer Nagaraj said that they will take a strict call this time and seize idols beginning Wednesday. 'There are nine environment officers for each zone, and strict instruction will be given to take action in their zone.'
Only cleaning roads, UGD should not become aim of Swatch Bharath. The environment should be protected, and people from all walks should come together for a change, added Uma, a retired science teacher.
Artists turn environment activists
Artist Revanna, a resident of Kumbargeri said that on an average more than 2000 Ganesha idols were being sold about a decade ago, which has now come down to merely 70 idols.
'The good thing is those who place idols inside homes prefer clay idols and about 50 idols have created without paint. I also put efforts to educate the customers and convince them to purchase clay idols without paint, which gives me a satisfaction of protecting the environment,' he adds.
Another artist Shyam Sundar said that when people place order we request them to go for non-painted ganesha. There are people who get convinced and join hands for protection of environment. But, still there is a long way to go.
The livelihood of traditional clay idol makers has been severely affected. From the ancestors period these families have been engaged in making Ganesha idols and at present there are about 60 families in Mysuru depend on Ganesha making for livelihood.
To give a tough competition for PoP idols, they are also creating ganesha of different avatars, just to attract customers towards clay idols. In their small houses they manage to create idols. With ponds going dry getting clay is itself a big challenge for the ganesha makers, and marketing amidst the colourful wide variety of different hues of ganesha created of PoP and Paper Mache idols is very challenging.
'We work day and night to create idols. We wont use moulds, and entire family depend on making idols in this month. Its high time government should take a strict call to protect the tradition,' adds artist Dinesh.
Kumbargeri will be soon history
There were more than 180 families in Kumbargeri who were making Mysuru Style Ganesha idols. But, down the years the numbers have come down drastically and at present hardly 9 families are engaged in creating idols. With no business, most of them have sold the property giving way to commercial complex. The residents were also familiar for pot making, but now its a challenging to find the families with no demand.
They say with hike in prices of essential commodities and no income it has severely affected their livelihood. The parents are asking the present generation children to engage in other works to eke out for livelihood becuse of no demand for the clay idols.