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Solid waste generation and disposal during Ganesh festival: A rapid study

Solid waste generation and disposal during Ganesh festival: A rapid study

The increasing scale of festivities are aggravating Pune’s existing issues of river pollution, waste management etc. and continuous efforts are being made for awareness regarding noise pollution, idol immersion in rivers and appropriate treatment of Nirmalya. Another issue which is not so much in the light is that of solid waste management. Through this study Sustainability Initiatives has attempted to estimate the magnitude of waste generated during Ganesh festival in particular and identified the varieties of materials like plaster of paris, thermocol, coir, wood, etc. that lie in the scrap heaps. The results of this study are appalling and they indicate areas that bear high scope for improvement.

 Some of the main features of our findings are as below:

  • Approx 3.4 lakh households in Pune host Ganpati idols.

  • Average 250 kg of fresh flowers are used during procession decoration.

  • About 400 tonnes/ day more waste than average collected on the Visarjan days mainly the 3rd, 5th, 7th and 10th.

  • About 500 tonnes of Nirmalya was collected by PMC and SWaCH during the 10 day period.

  • 3.6 lakh idols immersed this year.

  • On a positive side, idol immersion in river has reduced by 7% compared to 2012

The data for this study was collected through 3 approaches. Firstly, a number of Ganesh Mandals in Pune were interviewed to find the type and quantities of materials used by them for the procession and decoration. Then, an online survey was conducted to know the perception of people on the most significant impacts of Ganesh festival. To corroborate this data, statistics on waste collection, idol immersion were obtained from PMC and other NGOs.

The study showed that the average waste collection increased by 200 tonnes/ day in the 10 days. But, there is also a large amount of waste and discarded materials that are not collected by PMC and thus unaccounted in this data. Fresh flowers are the most popular decoration material and an average Mandal uses about 250 kg of flowers which end up in the trash after just a few of hours. Though the Municipal Corporation has made arrangements to collect the Nirmalya so that it is disposed in the right way, much of it collected in plastic bags, the segregation of which is one added task.

Unlike the above, we have also come across some positive observations. Mandals have become more sensitive to the issues of environment and prefer to use and reuse materials which leave minimum waste and can be recycled. Also, owing to the extensive awareness drive, there has been a decrease in the number of idols immersed in the rivers. It has come into light that the flex banners are reused for roofing/flooring in slums and also sent to villages for agricultural purposes.

At the end of this study, we have also come up with some recommendations which can help to improve the waste management in the future: 

  1. PMC can promote reusable decoration material and provide incentives through competitions, rewards etc.

  2. Sludge from the immersion tanks should be collected and sent to treatment plants.

  3. PMC must provide directives to systematically handle and dispose the waste generated on the occasion of the festival.

  4. Allotment of temporary waste collection bins for each waste category like Flex, Plaster of Paris, thermocol etc.

  5. Appointing a private team/company during the festival period to carry out the collection and disposal of waste.

  6. Defining a maximum permissible limit for use of inorganic/ non reusable material.


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