Ahead of the "Ganesh Chaturthi" festival, many idol-makers in Tamil Nadu are preparing eco-friendly Ganesha idols with the objective of saving the state's precious marine life.
These idols are worshiped during the 10-day festival, and finally immersed into the river or sea.
Generally, made of plaster of Paris and adorned with glittering clothes, tonnes of artificial jewellery and chemical paint, the idols take extremely long to degrade. They prove dangerous to the region's marine life.
Some environmental groups have successfully protested against the use of chemicals and Plaster of Paris in the making of the idols, and now idol-makers in Tamil Nadu have decided to switch over to the use of sand and paper machie to make the idols.
Idols made of these materials easily dissolve in water and the use of edible dyes makes it harmless to fish.
Ravi Kumar, an idol-maker, said: "I am designing these kinds of idols since childhood. Earlier, we designed the Ganesha idols by using plaster of Paris. But now we use only lime powder, paper machie and water that will easily dissolve in water."
Kumar said: "Every day, I make three idols and earn at least rupees 300 for a day. Now, almost 20 people are engaged in designing theses Ganesha statues. But with the government restricting the height of the statues to six feet, our daily earnings have been affected."
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had issued guidelines on use of material for making Ganesha idols. The new set of guidelines stipulates idols should be made of clay and not of plaster of Paris.
Environmentalists say that plaster of Paris takes longer to dissolve, as also it reduces the oxygen level in water resulting in the death of marine life.
The Central Pollution Control Board also asked idol-makers to discard all plastics and other insoluble ornaments put on the idols before the immersion in water bodies.
Lord Ganesha is worshipped in all parts of the country as "Vighnaharta" or, the trouble-shooter God.
Ganesh Chaturthi, which starts on September 15, is hugely popular in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka and also in Gujarat and Maharashtra, where thousands of idols are made during the festival season.