India

"Last Chance": On Ganesh Idols Immersion, Supreme Court Warns Telangana

New Delhi:

The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed the immersion of idols of Lord Ganesh in the Hussain Sagar lake in Hyderabad but made it clear that the permission was being granted only for this year. The bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana also directed the Telangana government to give an undertaking that idol immersions will not be allowed in the lake from next year.

"This is the last chance. Telangana government should give an undertaking that this immersion will not happen from next year," it said. The matter was heard by Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justice Surya Kant. Justice Hima Kohli who was part of the bench recused from the hearing as she had earlier passed some orders in the case during her tenure as Telanga High Court judge.

The state government, meanwhile, told the court that the immersion will be "symbolic" and that idols will be lifted immediately after they are immersed.

Earlier while hearing the case, the court had expressed its displeasure that despite giving several directions, the state government has not complied with the orders of the Telangana High Court prohibiting the immersion of idols and curb pollution there.

"Unfortunate that despite several court judgments immersions of idols take place every year in the lake and cause pollution. Government should have taken steps at the beginning itself to ensure the right height and right material out of which idols are made," the bench said.

The Greater Hyderabad Municipality Corporation had moved the Supreme Court against the September 13 Telangana High Court order not allowing immersion of Ganesh idols made of plaster of Paris (PoP) in Hussain Sagar Lake.

"We respect religious sentiments, there is no scripture that says that we should only pray to Lord Ganesha idol made in plaster of Paris (PoP)," Justice MS Ramchandra Rao of Telangana High Court had said while passing the order.

Appearing for the Telangana government, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had said that directions suggested by High Court for immersion do not provide enough depth. "Some idols are very tall and its difficult to change things in the middle of processions," he said.

To this, Chief Justice Ramana replied, "It's not a new phenomenon. Every year this happens. You should have taken steps earlier."

Later, the bench passed the order after taking note of the submission by the Solicitor General that steps have been taken to minimise pollution in the lake, and idols are lifted by cranes soon after the immersion and transferred to solid waste disposal sites for disposal.

"Lakhs of people will participate. Let us allow the immersion this year. They (state government) are assuring that they will immediately lift the idol out and will not cause damage to the lake. But this is the last chance we are giving. Discipline and cooperation of people are important. Government should have taken precautions at the beginning itself. We are not happy with the government action either but last-minute changes also are not possible. The government will have to give an undertaking that this will not be done next year," the bench said.

The Telangana High Court on September 13 had refused to modify its earlier order banning immersion of Ganesh idols made of PoP in Hussain Sagar Lake and other such places in the city.