Ganpati celebrations this year are set to get costlier with the price of idols rising by at least 60 per cent, say idol makers and festival organisers. Naresh Dahibavkar, convener of the Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvaya Samiti (BSGSS), blamed the state budget for 2012- 2013, in which tax on Plaster of Paris (PoP) was raised from five per cent to 12.5 per cent. This, coupled with rising prices of other raw material, has led to an increase in the cost of a medium-sized idol from around Rs 10,000 to Rs 17,000.
“Taxes on glue and paints have also risen. We can neither make PoP idols nor environment-friendly paper-mache ones and the government is to blame for this situation,” said Dahibavkar.
Vasant Raje, an idol-maker from Malad, said orders for clay idols have fallen by about 20 per cent this year. “The same amount of clay I used to purchase for Rs 160 now costs Rs 220. Even papier-mache idols have not seen much growth,” he said.
Elsie Gabriel, founder of Young Environmentalists, an organisation that promotes eco-friendly Ganpati idols, believes that at least half the city will opt for green idols this year. “People have understood the harm PoP can cause to the environment,” she said.
Earlier, members of BSGSS had decided to limit the height of idols to 18 ft. “Most Ganpati mandals have complied with this. In a few localities, residents will decide on the height of the idols,” said Dhibavkar.