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Bombay HC dismisses plea challenging PoP ban for sculpting idols used during Hindu festivals, plea contends PoP’s pH level is similar to that of drinking water

The petitioner added that PoP was banned without conducting any water-related scientific tests. On the basis of a lab test, he added that PoP's pH level is comparable to that of drinking water.

The Bombay High Court on Monday dismissed a plea challenging the validity of the revised guidelines which banned the use of Plaster of Paris (PoP) for making idols which are used during Hindu festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi and Navratri. The petition was filed by a social worker.

In his petition, Ajay Sadashiv Vaishampayan argued that the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) should have prohibited the immersion of PoP idols in natural water bodies rather than prohibiting their manufacturing. He continued by saying that a ban on PoP idols was unnecessary and that the CPCB’s 2010 guidelines on idol immersion were sufficient.

The guidelines for idol immersion were notified by the CPCB in 2010 and were revised in 2020.

The petitioner added that PoP was banned without conducting any water-related scientific tests. On the basis of a lab test, he added that PoP’s pH level is comparable to that of drinking water.

The argument further stated that the Shadu clay idols, a substitute, were worse for the environment. It was also said that because clay is not readily available, mass production of Shadu clay idols for a festival like Ganesh Chathurthi is not feasible. The petition stated that mining clay results in soil degradation and that it contains numerous pollutants as a result of mining.

The plea also argued that clay idols need highly specialised labour, in contrast to PoP, and that prohibiting PoP would prevent the less fortunate from enjoying these festivals due to the idols’ exorbitant cost.

To substantiate his claim, the petitioner in his plea also highlighted how the National Green Tribunal had, in 2013, quashed the Gujarat government’s decision to ban PoP Ganesh idols.

The bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice MS Karnik, however, dismissed the PIL after noting that the NGT had already decided the matter and that the Supreme Court had already upheld that decision.

The petitioner and a sculptor organisation petitioned the High Court in January 2021 to overturn the Central Pollution Control Board’s revised guidelines for idol immersion in 2020, which included the ban on PoP.

However, the High Court instructed them to request relief from the NGT after it dismissed the petition stating that it was not maintainable. The NGT said that while the level of damage caused by PoP was unknown, it was undeniable that it was a pollutant.

In November 2021, the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal against the NGT order. In a fresh round of litigation, petitioner Ajay Vaishampayan had now again challenged the guidelines and ban on PoP.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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