16:26 GMT28 February 2020
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): In a novel start to embrace an eco-friendly way of religious celebration, the national capital of India observed a popular festival dedicated to the elephant-headed Hindu God Ganesha on Thursday.

    After days of worship of Lord Ganesha in different localities across the metropolitan city, devotees are carrying his idols for immersion in the Yamuna River.

    This time, following concerns raised by the top federal environmental body, the National Green Tribunal, and court, the government of Delhi has put in place waist-deep artificial ponds for idol immersion marked as "Ganesha Chaturthi".

    The authorities have constructed 129 artificial pond sites across the city for the immersion practice.

    Devotees, trying to reach different banks of the river Yamuna for the traditional immersion were directed to the nearest artificial ponds specifically set up for the occasion.

    “We have made all the necessary arrangements. We had orders from National Green Tribunal to stop the immersion practice in Yamuna river, so we have constructed these artificial ponds”, J.P. Sharma, a Delhi police official, told Sputnik.

     “The chemicals used in plaster idols have chemicals which pollute rivers even kills the fishes. This move was therefore essential”, he added.

    Incidentally, most of the devotees voiced their support for the authorities’ move to make the general public opt for the chemical-made idols’ immersion in artificial ponds. People condoned the noble objective behind it – saving the river Yamuna, which is dying due to pollutants.

     “The immersion of these idols into rivers causes a lot of pollution. We certainly wouldn’t want that to happen. Thus, nowadays we prefer buying idols made of eco-friendly materials”, said Radha, a woman devotee near one of these artificial ponds.

    “The government too has taken an initiative to curb on river pollution by making these small artificial ponds. We welcome the move”.

    Manoj, another devotee, shared that he agreed with the authorities’ move and even preferred a biodegradable Ganesha idol to immerse this time.  

    “The rivers are holy to us and we should keep their piousness and purity. So these artificial ponds should be welcomed by all”, he said while urging other devotees of the city to use eco-friendly idols.

    “A lot of people have brought idols made of Plaster of Paris (PoP). However, I feel they pollute the environment thus i appeal to everyone to use eco-friendly idols”.

    According to a report by an Indian daily, the pollution levels in the river spikes manifold after idol immersions every year. Last year, after the celebration of Ganapati's immersion in Delhi, a concentration of chromium, lead, nickel, and mercury increased in the Yamuna River and made the water unfit for human use.

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