Mobile apps, radio campaigns making Ganesh Utsav 2016 eco friendly: environment minister

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By Sunita Kuperkar

Mumbai: Maharashtra environment minister Pravin Pote Patil has lauded the concept of the ‘Big Green Ganesh’ and called upon all devotees to ensure they celebrate the Ganesh Utsav festival with a special emphasis on environment protection and cleanliness. Pointing out that Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak had called for the first celebrations of the Ganesh Utsav when India was still under colonial rule, he said, the festival was held to create a public awareness about social causes and provide an impetus to the brewing freedom struggle.

The minister said, all devotees of Lord Ganesha can help protect the environment by installing eco-friendly idols of the deity at their respective pandals since such effigies do not pollute the environment.

Explaining the concept, the minister said, the Big Green Ganesh drive was launched by his ministry in collaboration with 92.7 Big FM radio station to promote an awareness about the use of eco-friendly material while making Lord Ganesha idols and using only biodegradable material for decoration of the stage and other ornamentation. The concept was launched formally by Maharashtra Chief Minister, Devendra Fadnavis at the onset of the Ganesh Utsav and has received a wide response, he added.

Under the Big Green Ganesh drive, several prominent personalities from Bollywood, the corporate sector, intelligentsia and others had donated old newspapers and similar material in bulk volumes to 97.2 Big FM. The material was processed to make Lord Ganesh effigies that are eco-friendly. These images are now on display at major shopping malls and other public places, Pote-Patil added. The radio station had also conducted interviews with craftsmen who made Lord Ganesh idols using recycled material, members of the public, environmentalists and others to popularize the concept. He noted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had lauded the Girgaum Cha Raja Ganesh Utsav organizers for using Ganesh idols made with saw dust and other eco-friendly material consistently since the last 89 years.

Speaking about decorations at Ganesh Utsav pandals, the minister said, people were encouraged to use flowers and other natural, biodegradable items instead of Styrofoam which is widely used but is not environment friendly. Celebrants were also requested to display messages that opposed abortions, preservation of environment, general hygiene and public cleanliness, among others, at these venues. People were also encouraged to plant more trees and decorative plants and shrubs to prevent deforestation.

The minister also sounded a warning over reckless use of loudspeakers, bands and music systems saying these only serve to weaken the spirit of the festival since such loud music causes problems to senior citizens, students engrossed in studies and others who have an aversion to high decibels. Hence, celebrants must take added precautions to ensure that music played at venues do not cause any disturbance to any member of the society.

Pote-Patil said, special ponds where Ganesh Utsav celebrants can immerse idols of the deity were developed by the various municipal corporations and local administrations while bins to collect flowers used to consecrate the idols are provided at each such immersion venue.

This year, the state government has launched the Eco Bappa a mobile app that aims at educating people about how to celebrate Ganesh Utsav in an environment friendly manner. In addition, the app allows people to upload pictures of Ganesh idols and decorations that have been designed using eco-friendly material, which will encourage others to follow suit.

The minister called upon all devotees of Lord Ganesha to  observe all forthcoming Ganesh Utsav festival in a manner that educates people about various social evils, is eco friendly and causes no undue disturbance to the general public.

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