Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Of Puja, Pollution and God Who Gets Dumped: Part II

For the past three years, I have been hollering for the National Environment Commission (NEC) and other relevant government agencies to do something about the annual dumping of hundreds of Vishwakarma statues into our river systems. My concern is that, unlike in the olden days, the present day statues are made of non-biodegradable materials such as plastic, cement and plaster of Paris and painted with chemical dyes that contain harmful and toxic agents. These idols pollute our rivers.

We never fail to talk big about our environmental conservation efforts and the pristine nature of our ecosystem. The truth is that despite repeatedly pointing out the ill effects of the practice of dumping statues into our river systems, the authorities have remained stoically unconcerned. The best I have seen the NEC do is post a notice on their website that reads as follows:

This is for the general information to the public that washing and cleaning of clothes/vehicles and dumping of any kinds of wastes by the river banks or into any water bodies are prohibited under the Waste Prevention and Management Act of Bhutan 2009 and National Environment Protection Act of Bhutan 2007.

Therefore, everyone is informed to stop carrying out these activities. Henceforth, anyone found violating these Acts shall be liable for both civil and criminal penalties”.

As far as the NEC is concerned, they seem to believe that they have fulfilled their duty once a notice is posted on their website.

Yesterday was Vishwakarama Puja and yet again I suppose our river system will suffer another round of the annual abuse.

Now, however, the Ministry of Agriculture & Forests, in collaboration with the Food Corporation of Bhutan, seems to be taking some action. Yesterday morning, as I was passing by the vegetable market, I saw the following scene. Seems like atleast one arm of the government is so fed up that they are now auctioning off the idols as vegetables.

It is a start.