Home / News / India /  Durga puja preparation bares artists' woes to minimise damaging impact on environment

As West Bengal gears up to celebrate Durga Puja, artists at various parts of the state express anguish at Centre's sudden ban on single-use plastic. The ban was imposed just three months ago when the preparations for Puja Pandal, idols have already started. Artists have expressed that an awareness campaign would have been more convenient than the sudden ban. 

A report published in PTI reveals the status of the impoverished artists less than a month ahead of the four-day Durga Puja festival in West Bengal. Artists in the state use Thermocol to decorate the idols and pandals. 

The PTI report has mentioned that artists believe ‘it would have been better had the government launched an awareness campaign among them about the item’s bad effect on the environment and given time to them to find out an alternative product.’

The Indian government has imposed a complete ban on manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of single-use plastic items which includes plates, cups, and straws, thermocol. 

Thermocol is a synthetic polymer often used in protective packaging, thermal insulation and decorating various items. Thermocol is not biodegradable and thus not environment-friendly.

Artists speak

Internationally known artist Sanatan Dinda told PTI that he welcomed the ban. However, he also mentioned that artisans should have been given some time for the transformation, especially ahead of Durga Puja.

“Most people go for thermocol based decorations. They should have been trained first and then the ban should have been imposed," he said.

“I used thermocol in the past but shunned it a long time ago. In this year’s puja, I am using iron, paper, different kinds of clay and fibreglass for my work," said Dinda who is bringing alive the concept of a couple of Durga pujas in Kolkata.

Artist Pradip Das told PTI, “The government also must ensure that thermocol is not manufactured. People cannot use it if it is not available in the market," Das said, adding that he is using pieces of cloth to give shape to the theme for another Durga puja organiser in the city.

Ranjit Sarkar, an artisan who creates various items with thermocol as a base besides making ornaments for idols, said nothing much can be done this year as most of the items have already been prepared.

“We will have to think of other materials instead of thermocol now. The government should have thought about it a long time ago. Many people will be affected due to the ban and shifting to other materials will take time," he said.

Environment vs artists

As the ban promises to save the planet earth from pollution, it also puts the artists in a fix. The artists face the same woes as fire cracker manufacturers did after sever air pollution forced several state governments to ban them. 

For many years, pieces of thermocol have been found strewn around after the festivities rea over. they do not biodegrade and lay the same on large patches of grass. 

Artist Bhabotosh Sutar told PTI that the need of the hour is an alternative to thermocol. “It can be Shola, which is a natural product. It is harvested from shola plant that grows in marshy land," Sutar said. However, shola is much costlier compared to thermocol and the production cost will go up if it is used as an alternative material, the artists said.

Shola (Aeschynomene aspera) is available in various places in West Bengal and many people are engaged in creating artworks made of it.

 

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