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27 May 2019, Edition - 1413, Monday

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Coimbatore

Greens against idol immersion in environmentally-acclaimed Singanallur Lake

Vignesh Vijayakumar

Singanallur Lake, which recently got the bio-diversity conservation zone tag, has had to bear the impact of Vinayaka Chathurthi celebrations. The conclusion of the festivities comes to a close with the immersion of the idols in waterbodies.

While environmentalists have raise a voice of protest against immersion in this lake, authorities have said that green initiatives will be chalked out soon.

This status, the first of its kind in the State, was accorded by Rural and Municipal Administration Minister SP Velumani on July 31. A Centre for Urban Biodiversity Conservation and Education was formed to conserve the lake with the Coimbatore Corporation Commissioner as its president.

But sadly enough, the lake, spread over 288 acres, was one of the water bodies allowed officially for Ganesha idol immersion. The order from the City police has allowed immersion of 34 idols in the lake between August 25 and 30.

This has earned the wrath of environmentalists. Activist M Yoganathan said idol immersion in the lake must be stopped. “The lake is a hot spot for migratory birds and the government should also take action to stop release of sewage into it. The use of colours and plaster of paris that go into making of these idols will pollute the water body,” he said.

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Researcher Vinny R Peter, who has been studying the lake biodiversity for the past ten years, said, “We have documented 720 species of birds, plants and butterflies in the region. The lake is rich in urban biodiversity. Within city limits there is no other place so rich in biodiversity. Forty species of birds come from Siberia, North America and the Himalayas.”

Vinny is also a member of the team working to develop Miyawaki forest around the lake. “There is growth of small dense forests and this has increased bird activity at the lake,” she said.

Regarding idol immersion, she said, “Plaster of paris and chemical colours can be an issue and affect the lake though clay idols won’t pose such problems.”

The biodiversity zone announcement came in July end by which time festival preparations had begun. “But from our side, we have stopped immersions at the west end side of the lake which is the congregation area for birds. Immersions are done on the east end. Necessary steps can be taken later,” she added.

But Swarajith Alakananda, Founder of So Aware Foundation which came up with the idea of ‘Green Ganapathi’, says things there is reason to cheer. “There is an increasing awareness about environment among youngsters,” he said. Around two to three tonnes of clay go into making an idol and these are filled with various seeds and bird food. We were almost sold out as we neared the festival day,” he added.

Reasons for hope were also there when Singanallur legislator AN Karthik said, “The Government can take steps to stop immersions in the lake and develop a separate tank for this since plaster of paris and chemical colours can affect the aquatic ecosystem.”

In response to the immersions, Corporation Commissioner Dr K Vijayakarthikeyan said, “We will strengthen our monitoring mechanisms in the coming days and ensure that no such incidents happen in the future. We will also chalk out the clear cut dos and do nots.”

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