At least some Durga Puja pandals in 2008 in Kolkata are trying hard to become eco-friendly amidst rising cost of raw materials. These pandals are trying to avoid the use of chemical paints. Idols of Durga will be adorned with natural paints.
What difference does the use of natural colors make? A lot! Durga Puja idols painted using chemical colors have high percentage of lead and other toxic chemicals. When the idols are immersed they pollute water bodies and rivers, especially
In 1993-95, a Central Pollution Control Board study had found that the concentration of heavy metals increased considerably in the
Hooghlywater after the immersions. More than 32 tonnes of toxic paints mixed with the water after immersions during the period.
The state pollution control board has recently found that the yellow paint used by the idol-makers in Kumartuli and other places is rich in toxic lead and chromium.
“We are using lead-free paints this year,” Santanu Biswas, the secretary of FD block puja committee, said before a state-appointed committee looking after puja-related pollution.
“The lead-free colours that are available in the market are suitable for painting idols. The cost escalation is nominal, given the puja budget,” said Biswajit Mukherjee, the chief law officer of the environment department and the convener of the state-appointed committee. Mukherjee expressed the hope that lead-free colors would be used on a larger scale next year.