The Court Orders Strict Compliance on Idol Immersion Guidelines, Puts the State Government and Police on Notice
“This lake is not for you; it is for generations, not to pollute with Plaster of Paris,”Chief Justice Aradhe
Telangana High Court has ordered the State government to ensure that no idols made of Plaster of Paris (PoP) are immersed in any water bodies in Hyderabad, including Hussainsagar Lake. The Court has directed the Commissioner of Police to oversee the immersion process, ensuring it takes place only in designated ‘baby ponds’ created by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC).
Court’s conclusion comes in response to a plea filed by the Telangana Ganesh Murti Kalakaar Welfare Association’s president, Raj Kumar Singh and eight others. The petitioners challenged the Revised Guidelines for Idol Immersion issued by the Central Pollution Control Board, arguing that these guidelines violated their fundamental rights under Articles 14, 19, 21, 25, and 300-A of the Constitution.
Chief Justice Alok Aradhe and Justice NV Shravan Kumar, who presided over the case, were unyielding. “This lake is not for you; it is for generations, not to pollute with Plaster of Paris,” Chief Justice Aradhe remarked.
Despite a previous undertaking before the Supreme Court, the Court also criticised the State authorities for not taking sufficient measures to prevent immersion in Hussainsagar Lake.
The Telangana High Court’s decision was not made in isolation. It referenced a recent ruling by the Madras High Court, which held that individuals have no right to manufacture, sell, or immerse idols made of PoP or plastic. A special leave petition against this order was dismissed by a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court on September 18, 2023.
The Court also noted a previous undertaking given by the Telangana government before the Supreme Court in 2021, binding the State to adhere to environmental guidelines. Senior Counsel and Government Pleader Harender Pershad assured the Court that the directive would be communicated to the relevant authorities for strict compliance. The Court has adjourned the matter for three weeks, with the immersion of Ganesh idols scheduled for September 28. A compliance report is expected to be filed before the next hearing.
Where would PoP idols go?
The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation has already set up 72 ‘baby ponds’ around the city for the immersion of idols. These designated ponds are part of a broader strategy to mitigate the environmental impact of the festivities.