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Why Karnataka’s Eco-Friendly Ganesh Festival, Held During Covid Time, Entered Asia Book of Records

Karnataka’s ecofriendly Ganesh festival 2021 found its way into the Asia Book of Records. 50000+ Ganesha idols were made with turmeric and the eco-friendly campaign reached around 1.58cr people of the state. The concept, community engagement, training provided to make eco-friendly idols at the community level landed the initiative in the record book
Indian Masterminds Stories

In a country of cultural diversity like India, every festival infuses fresh energy into the lives of people. The last two years had been devoid of such energy because of Covid-19 restrictions on public gatherings. Still, Karnataka managed to celebrate Ganesh Utsava in a way that found its place in the Asia Book of Records, thereby bringing cheer to the people of the state.

Indian Masterminds presents this story today, about how Karnataka managed to create a record by celebrating a festival during Covid time. In exclusive conversation with us, Mr. Srinivasalu, IFS, Member Secretary of Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), speaks about it in detail.

TURMERIC GANESHA

Mr. Srinivasalu said, “During the time of Covid-19, every festival was getting banned to avoid public gathering, and the same happened at the time of Ganesh Utsava 2021. It is a human psychology to do exactly the opposite of what was asked not to do. If you say don’t do this, people are more inclined to do that only. As the festival is celebrated across India to invoke Lord Ganesha for new beginning and removal of obstacles, we thought of providing them an alternative – turmeric – to make Ganesha’s Idols.”

In South India, a festival called Gauri Ganesha is celebrated, where the idol of Gauri is made out of turmeric and worshiped. The officer continued, “I tried to combine two factors: first, provide an alternative, and second, encourage the use of turmeric in houses in Covid times, due to its antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory properties, and auspicious and divine powers.”

The thought was ideated to revive, sensitise, mobilise and engage citizens in promoting ecofriendly turmeric Ganesha idols, thereby preventing environmental pollution.

THE CAMPAIGN

The regular idols made with Plaster of Paris contains hazardous chemicals like calcium sulfate, cadmium, mercury, lead, etc., which when added to waterbodies reduces the oxygen level, which results in killing fish and aquatic life.

“So, the idea was to sensitise and motivate people to make and worship 1 lakh turmeric Ganesha idols by reaching out to 10 million citizens of Karnataka. The efforts were taken up on a mass level,” the officer said.

Developing creatives and communication materials, creation of web-based platform for uploading idol images, engaging stakeholders like celebrities, religious heads, use of digital media platforms, engaging around 26+ government bodies and 30+ non-government bodies for promotional purposes were some of the steps involved in the campaign.

A dedicated platform was also created to scan, enter the phone number and upload an image of the individual along with his Ganesha idol in one frame.

ASIA BOOK OF RECORDS

The concept, community engagement, training to make eco-friendly Ganesha idols at the community level, etc., landed the initiative in the Asia Book of Records.

Mr. Srinivasalu said, “Our agenda is that people should know the dangers of polluting the water they are drinking, the air they are breathing in, and the soil in which they are cultivating crops. Only when they are aware that something is bad around them will they start worrying about it. Awareness converges to debate, debate converges to solutions, projects, budget and planning.”

The campaign resulted in around 50000+ Ganesha idols being made out of turmeric, 18000+ images being uploaded in web platforms, and the campaign reaching to around 1.58cr people of Karnataka. Government institutes, colleges, NGOs and associations, commercial establishments and industries, all participated through door-to-door campaigns, webinars and outreach programmes in hotels, airports, social media, news agencies etc.

The key outcome was ensuring behavioral change among citizens to adopt the age-old traditional turmeric Ganesha for prevention of environmental pollution.

OTHER INITIATIVES

Other initiatives taken up by Mr. Srinivasalu show us how real time solutions can be provided by combining technology with management. A rapid response vehicle manned by soldiers in the city of Bengaluru, with an emergency response number 25582559, is his brainchild to immediately address public complaints. He also launched an E-manifest, a web-based application to register and track hazardous waste movement as prescribed under hazardous waste management rules 2016. Other launches are – KSPCB mobile app, a one-point solution for latest notifications, rules, awareness programs, quizzes, real time environmental pollution updates, etc.; Consent Mela for hassle-free registration of industries with KSPCB; tracking and monitoring of CETP (Carbon Effluent Treatment Plant) through GPS vehicles.

(Mr. Srinivasalu has done his post-graduation in Molecular Biology and is a gold medalist from University of Agricultural Science, Dharwad. He secured all India 10th rank in Indian Forest Service exam and 2nd rank in Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) exam. He has published many research papers and articles on environment and wildlife till date.)


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