Agra, Oct 11 (IANS) Ahead of Dussehra, when thousands of Durga idols will be immersed on Sunday after a nine-day puja, green activists in this Taj city have taken the lead in providing an alternative site on the banks of the Yamuna for the immersion.
The site overlooks the Taj Mahal at the famous Haathi Ghat. The 16th century Agra Fort, built by Mughal emperor Akbar, is nearby.
The "Visarjan Kund" (immersion site) is a 20x20-deep pit along the bank of the river. Scooped earth forms the boundary of the square pool, which will be filled with water. Another pit on the side is for puja samagri (material used for the rituals which are later discarded) and flowers, which in course of time would turn into manure.
A similar site has been developed at the Kailash Ghat on the Yamuna bank.
The initiative, taken up by the Agra Vikas Manch, supported by the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department, is to provide an alternative to those who ritually immerse idols in the Yamuna river.
The Allahabad High Court last week banned the immersion of idols in the river and directed the state government to provide alternatives by next year.
The panda (priest) at Haathi Ghat, Gyasi Ram, told IANS: "Already, some people have started using this kund and have deposited the idols here. Volunteers should direct people here during Dussehra."
Thirty years ago, the immersion of idols did not pose an environmental hazard as these were mostly made of mud or clay and painted with colours that were not made of toxic substances, green activist Surendra Sharma explained.
"These days, however, the idols are made of Plaster of Paris and their toxic plastic colours pollute the river. The idols are not easily dissolved and create a health hazard and huge pollution problems," Sharma added.
All cities in India can provide alternative sites along rivers or ponds for immersion of idols, Shravan Kumar Singh of the Heritage Society here said.
Whether the site will appeal to people who need to immerse Durga idols, and whether this plan will actually work, however, remains to be seen.
"Clearly, it will take a lot persuasion, but this is a welcome initiative," said Acharya Madhukar Chaturvedi, a priest in the area.