Even as only one month remains for Ganesh Chaturthi, the idol sculptors and manufacturers in the city are already applying the finishing touches to the Ganesha idols. In a bid to ensure an eco-friendly festival, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) have tied up with the ganesh idol makers to ensure that more eco-friendly Ganesha idols flood the market at reasonable rates.
While it is common knowledge that Plaster of Paris (PoP) idols are cheaper than clay idols, The manufacturers are making efforts to ensure that price difference between the idols made from PoP and the ones made from clay can be slashed from a comparative 50 per cent to 25 - 30 per cent this year. The idol makers have also increased the production of clay idols by nearly 30 per cent to promote an eco-friendly Ganesh festival. Additionally, the MPCB will be promoting manufacturers who sell clay idols.
"We have been in the manufacturing of Ganesh idols for 12 years now. However, until last year, we manufactured 2 clay idols against 15 PoP idols. But this year, there is a 30 per cent reduction in PoP and 6 out of 10 pre-ordered idols are made of clay. Citizens have become more concerned for the environment," said Nisha Shelke, owner of Maurya Ganesh Arts in Aundh.
Though clay idols have be promoted for years by environmentalists, the clay idol makers say that till last year the clay idols were not affordable for all. This year, while the clay idols is still expensive than PoP, it is in an affordable, reasonable range. Last year, the cost of a PoP idol was Rs 500 and clay idol of the same size and design came for Rs 900 - 1000. But this year, the same clay idol is for Rs 650-700.
"The raw materials of both PoP and clay has become expensive than last year. But if the PoP rates have increased by 10 per cent, the clay rates have increased by 5 per cent. Thus the price margin has reduced between the two materials," added Chaitanya Tagade of Shree Ganesh Kala Kendra.
Similarly, Dinesh Vaidya of Guruseva Enterprises said, "We started making only shadu clay idols since last year and had sold 500 idols. This year we already have pre-bookings of 100 idols till now and are expecting a sale of over 1000 idols at least."
The MPCB will also start with awareness and promotion programs to increase use of clay idols. "There will be advertisements in television channels and local newspapers, workshops for citizens and training for clay idol makers as well to help them understand how to promote the eco friendly idols. All this will start in early august," said J S Salunkhe, sub regional officer, MPCB.