Plaster of Paris being used for making idols is on a ban since 2012. Usually, after Idols of Gods and Goddesses are worshipped, they are immersed in natural water resources such as lakes, beaches and the sea. When Idols made from Plaster of Paris (PoP) are immersed in water, such PoP causes water pollution in a huge manner which then affects the fish and other sea animals. Also, when such fish and other sea- food is consumed, the toxic materials degrade the quality of food consumed by people. In order to reduce such water pollution by way of PoP, the concerned authorities have been giving out notifications to ban Plaster of Paris and make eco – Friendly Idols.
The Notification of 2020 which issued revised guidelines regarding the Immersion of Idols by the Central Pollution Control Board has prohibited the sellers from selling idols made from Plaster of Paris. As a result, the sellers have approached the Court stating that they are unable to sell any of the Ganesh Idols or Idols of other Gods and Goddesses during the upcoming festival period, causing a grave financial loss to the sellers.
The Court held that the ban on selling idols made from Plaster of Paris has been made since 2012; therefore, the sellers shall not say that the 2020 Notification or guidelines took them by surprise. This Notification cannot be said to cause any potential financial loss, if any, suffered by them during this festival period. Hence, the Court is not inclined to hear this petition.
Further, the Court brought about the issue with using clay or other biodegradable material for making the idols as these materials sink to the bottom of the water resources like lakes or man – made lakes and the oil paints and other substances used for beautification of the idols proves to be harmful as drinking water and also to the animals that live in that water. Considering all these points. The Court has decided to covert this Petition into Public Interest Litigation.
Considering that many sellers have already manufactured multiple Idols made of Plaster of Paris and banning them would cause heavy financial losses, the Court has decided to give them a chance to recover their money. However, these idols shall not be sold during any festival times or shall not be used for worshipping. These idols can be sold as mere ‘Objects’ made from Plaster of Paris and not as ‘Idols’ for worshipping. The idol makers shall have to give an undertaking to the Court stating that they shall not sell these idols during this Ganesh Festival or any other upcoming Festivals in this year or ahead. These ‘Objects’ shall be sold only during non-festival times with a condition that the object shall not be worshipped or immersed in water. This condition shall be laid down to the buyer at the time of the sale and purchase of the ‘Object’.