Ganesh idols turning Hussain Sagar into toxic broth

Hyderabad: Every year around 60000 big and small idols are immersed into various lakes of Hyderabad on the occasion of Ganesh visarjan. The idols, most of them made of PoP and coated with bright colours, are turning the lakes into toxic broth. With majority of the idols immersed in Hussain Sagar, the historic lake is the worst affected. The Khairiatabad Ganesh idol itself will add upto 30 tonnes of gypsum or plaster of Paris (PoP) to the already toxic lake. This year, it towers at 57-feet.

The Hindu has quoted a study in its report which revealed that the 400-year-old Hussain Sagar Lake is now a toxic broth of heavy metals like arsenic, lead and mercury as well as calcium, iron, magnesium, molybdenum and silicon in the lake waters due to the use of paints and varnishes on the idols.

According to A. Vijay Kumar who has been testing the water of the Hussain Sagar lake for the past 16 years, an estimated 50,000 tonnes of PoP, 500 tonnes of iron and 200 tonnes of wooden planks are dumped in the lake by the end of the festival. He says the PoP is non-biodegradable and forms a layer of sediment thus deteriorating the water quality. He observed that the number of fish has declined in the lake over the last 15 years.

Telangana State Pollution Control Board official expressed his helplessness saying that they could not enforce pollution norms due to social and religious pressure. However an awareness campaign was launched by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation this year by distributing 2.25 lakh clay idols which have been installed in residences and apartment complexes. But this could not prevent from installation of bigger idols at road junctions and bigger colonies. The civic body plans to organize a workshop next year to dissuade artisans from using PoP and synthetic paints.