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Not all Bengalureans are leaving it to the government to popularise eco-friendly Ganeshas this festival. Several voluntary organisations have opened counters selling Ganeshas that are more environment friendly in shops and other places where they are sold, to give people an alternative to the more colourful, but also ecologically harmful idols on display.

Youth For Seva, for instance is running an e-campaign to encourage people to opt for lead-free Ganesha idols and make a difference to the environment at the individual level.

“We are also trying to convince the craftsmen to make colourless idols as the demand for them is rising with every passing year. You now find several such idols on display and on sale in Bengaluru,” says G. Shrinivas, coordinator of the Parisara Ganapthi programme run by Youth for Seva.

Several institutes are also planning to conduct surveys of lakes in the city this year to see how polluted they get after the idols are immersed in them. “These surveys could provide a fresh insight into the contamination of the water bodies due to immersion of idols,” says an environmental expert with a city firm. While welcoming the role that voluntary groups and organisations are beginning to play in making the Ganesha festival more eco-friendly, N. Shashidhara, principal advisor, National Referral Centre for Lead Poisoning of India, says more awareness needs to be created about lead poisoning to deter people from buying idols that are made with harmful paint.

He also thinks Karnataka could learn a thing or two from West Bengal, where the government gives away prizes for pandals that participate in the festival in an eco-friendly manner. “Eco-Durga is a new concept catching on in West

Bengal and it can be replicated in Karnataka,” he says.

Source: Deccan Chronicle

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