Despite ban, devotees are bent upon immersing Ganesh idols in Hussain Sagar

Hyderabad: It seems that devotees of Lord Ganesha are in no mood to heed the city police’s warning on the ban of idol immersions, as several people have been immersing idols in Hussain Sagar Lake for the last three days.

Cops posted on the Tank Bund are looking the other way when the devotees are in the process of immersion of the idols. It was obvious that the police were not interested in picking up an argument with the devotees who have come to Tank Bund of Hussain Sagar with a made-up mind.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the state government has said that it would not allow immersions, idol installations at public places as it is a risk to people’s health.

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On Monday evening, the Tank Bund main road was hit by a traffic jam, as several people lined up there to put their idols into the historic lake. Moreover, social distancing and other COVID-19 guidelines went for a toss, as many devotees were not wearing face masks and bringing children and as well as the elderly along with them.

Every year, thousands of idols are immersed into the lake, as people sing and make merry during the celebrations. Last year alone about 60,000 small, medium and big idols were immersed in the lake beginning in the morning till late night.

This year too due to the immersions, sides of the lake were packed with plastic bags, flower petals and other pooja material. The railing of the Tank Bund Bridge also had plastic bags lying. All this despite the Telangana government prohibiting the immersion of Ganesh idols. Even though there are no cranes to assist the immersions, devotees still found a way to dump their bags of religious material across the lake.

“We have been asking people not immerse idols or dump waste in the lake. But just a few of us have been deployed here. If we stop one person at one end, someone comes from the other and empties their bags into the lake,” said an exasperated Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) sanitation worker, who has been tasked with checking waste being dumped on the lake.

No sanitation workers or helpers could be seen at the lake to help people for the immersions, as a result some people and minors have been making a quick buck from devotees by taking the idols down into the water and performing the immersions.

On Tuesday, August 25 more than five trucks of garbage was cleaned by the GHMC from all across the Hussain Sagar Lake. Just when it looked like the historic lake would get a breather this year due to COVID-19, it seems that this assumption is being proven wrong. Each year, due to the immersions, pollution levels of the Hussain Sagar Lake also increases due to the presence of chemicals in the idols.

“It is for the administration and the police to check the violations of orders on idol immersion in the Hussain Sagar Lake. On our part, we had barricaded several major parts of the lake and regularly collect waste that piled up across the entire stretch of the lake,” said a senior GHMC official who did not want to be quoted.

Earlier this month, Hyderabad City Police Commissioner, Anjani Kumar, clearly spelled out the ban in his tweet, “We care for your health and safety. Protect your family against COVID-19. Do Maatam of Muharram at home. Similarly all Ganesh puja has to be done at home. No idol installation or any event will be held at public places as directed by the Government. Keep yourself and the city safe.”

Data from the last three days show that an estimated 2,000 small size Ganpati idols have been immersed in the lake. Moreover, the immersion ban by the state government has also run into stiff opposition from Hindutva groups like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, which held a protest on Monday at the Khairatabd Ganesh pandal. The protesters held black flags at Hyderabad and other areas.

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