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Karnataka: No official confirmation from government, pollution board and police fail to draw guidelines for Ganesh Chaturthi

The Karnataka government is scheduled to hold a meeting on September 5 with technical experts and health officials to discuss requests for a normal Ganesh Chaturthi.

As pressure mounts on the Karnataka government to not impose restrictions on public celebrations of Ganesh Chaturthi this year, enforcement agencies like the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) and the police are yet to issue guidelines for the festivities this year.

Various Right-wing organisations have requested the officials to not restrict Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations this year. The Karnataka government is scheduled to hold a meeting on September 5 with technical experts and health officials to discuss requests for a normal Ganesh Chaturthi amid rising Covid-19 in neighbouring states like Kerala.

“No guidelines have been prepared as yet but we do not expect a normal Ganesh Chaturthi. Restricted festivities may be allowed like last year,” said a senior police officer in Bengaluru.

BJP MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal also urged the chief minister not to impose restrictions on public celebrations of Ganesh Chaturthi. In Mangaluru, fringe outfit Sri Rama Sene’s state general secretary Anand Shetty Adyar threatened to stage a dharna in front of the offices of BJP legislators if public celebrations are banned this year.

In the absence of a clarity from the government, idol-makers in the city are a worried lot since sales are restricted and there are very few retail outlets.

“The sales are bad as consumers have no clue about idol immersion. Since there is a curb on celebrations already, why cannot the government come out with guidelines on the maximum size of the idols?” said Kiran Balu, owner of Manjunatha Ganesh and Gowri Idol Works in Pottery Town.

“Last year, the sales were worse. Since the Covid cases had started declining, we had pumped money into making idols but there is no sale even this year. We restricted ourselves to Ganesh idols of not more than two feet but there are no takers. We are a wholesale unit and retail outlets buy from us. This year the number of retail outlets have also gone down,” said Balu.

While there have been reports of Plaster of Paris (PoP) idols sneaking in from the Maharashtra border despite a ban imposed on them, the state pollution control board has not taken any effort to curb their usage since the state government has not come up with guidelines on idol immersion.

Earlier, BBMP, KSPCB and the city police used to form a team to take measures against the manufacturing and sale of PoP idols and conducted raids. Apartments were requested to use mobile vans for immersions and based on the requirement, vans used to be deployed around the city.

The KSPCB has, meanwhile, launched a campaign to promote eco-friendly Ganesh idols made of turmeric. “We are promoting turmeric Ganesha idols. We have not fixed the size of the idols yet as there is already a curb on the celebrations and people are apprehensive to come out,” KSPCB member secretary Srinivasulu K said.

“The second wave is ending but we cannot afford to have a casual approach since the third wave is expected to hit in the last week of September or the first week of October. The restrictions on gatherings should continue,” said Dr C N Manjunath, nodal officer for labs and testing in Karnataka’s Covid-19 task force.

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