The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 05-08-2022 | 03:35 am
Ganesh idols made of Plaster of Paris (PoP) — some finished, some waiting to be painted and a few others in initial stage of work — line the Gulbai Tekra street in Ahmedabad that is bustling ahead of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival later this month. The family of Vasuben Bhati, 35, from the Baori community of Rajasthan, that has been into idol-making for the past 100 years, is not much concerned about the environmental threats raised by PoP idols.“Clay idols don’t fetch enough money,” says Vasuben who is among a group of idol-makers who make idols that range from 20 feet to half-a-foot in height.Vasuben lives in a makeshift house on one of the lanes of Gul-bai Tekra, a ghetto of “Marwaris” as they are known in Ahmed-abad, with her family of seven, including two sons, two daughters, one daughter-in-law, all in their twenties and husband, Anil Bhati, 45, who is in Diu. Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inbox Last month, the Gujarat government removed restrictions on the size of Ganesh idols that were imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic. The height of idols in public places were restricted to four feet and those at homes two feet or lower.“In two years of the pandemic, we mostly made clay idols… and sold around 50 idols,” says Vasuben. According to her, clay idols do not attract much customers and are sold at a lower price compared to the ones made of PoP. “The ones made of clay are sold at Rs 7,000 to Rs 8,000,” she says.Vasuben says clay idols tend to get damaged and a damaged idol is not used for worship. “Given the nature of the soil, and these idols cannot be baked like the clay pots or diyas, used during Diwali… They take around 15 days to one month to dry. After they dry up, cracks develop, and they have to be rectified time and again,” she says, adding the PoP idols are durable and dry fast.“We also get good prices compared to the clay ones. A 10-feet idol is made in 6-7 days, within an input cost of Rs 25,000 and sold for about Rs 30,000,” says Vasuben.As per the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)’s revised guidelines for idol immersion, “Idols made up of only natural, biodegradable, eco-friendly raw materials without any toxic, inorganic raw materials… allowed… idols made up of Plaster of Paris (PoP) shall be banned.” According to Vasuben, the family makes idols for other festivals also, such as Janmashtami, Navratri and Diwali, and work as domestic help or at construction sites, rest of the year. “Moulding of an idol takes two hours. Leather moulds of each size are available, and we make a mixture of PoP and straw and put in the leather mould. It takes at least three days to dry,” said Baijya Bhati, 22, who belongs to another family of idol-makers at Gulbai Tekra. He works for Sagan Solanki. “After the basic structure is made, other parts are cast separately and joined to the basic structure, such as the limbs of Lord Ganesh. The coating and painting of details then follows. As of now, the idols are being moulded and coated. The final detailing is done 15 days before the festival,” says Solanki, 20, who has a contract for plumbing at IIM-Ahmedabad that helps him survive the rest of the year. According to Baijya, the raw material comes from Mumbai though the sale is only for Ahmedabad. “Each of us are paid Rs 1,500 per day for moulding idols. There are no fixed hours, we work almost the whole day,” he adds. “As of now, we have made around 15 idols of different sizes. Others will be made based on orders. During one Chaturthi festival, we sell around 50-60 idols,” says Sagan. “The sample models come from Pen in Raigad district of Maharashtra. We then make leather moulds to make the replicas,” says Satra Solanki, a 55-year-old idol-maker. The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) makes temporary tanks for idol immersion every year. This year, however, the guidelines are not out yet. “A plan will be prepared soon,” said an AMC official.
GANDHINAGAR/AHMEDABAD: Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) on Friday began releasing water from the Sardar Sarovar dam. For the first time this monsoon, water was released being at a rate of 10,000 cusecs on Friday from five gates of the dam. As of Friday, the dam was filled to 83% of its capacity and the water level stood at 133.95 metres. The level has been increasing by three to four centimetres every hour. The Sabarmati in Ahmedabad got about 4,000 cusecs of Narmada water on Friday. According to AMC officials, the fresh Narmada water flushed out the stagnant water from the river. "Only 1,000 cusecs was released from the Vasna Barrage," said an AMC official. With the water level increasing steadily in the dam, for the past 20 days, the riverbed power house has been generating about two million units of electricity worth Rs 4 crore daily, according to an official statement. The canal head power station began producing electricity on Friday. According to the officials, about 20,000 cusecs of water will be released for irrigation purposes into the Narmada main canal. With 10,000 cusecs of water being released into downstream areas, the district administrations of Narmada and Bharuch districts have been asked to remain alert. The government officials said that the other 206 dams, barring Narmada dam, have total storage of 65.14% which was 2,695.6 million cubic metres more that the storage last year. The storage in South Gujarat was the highest at 75.30% followed by 70.78% in Kutch. Of the 206 dams, 68 have over 90% storage and another 16 have storage between 80% to 90%.
AHMEDABAD: While Ahmedabad city's tree cover is falling rapidly, the number of cases of illegal tree felling is on the rise, making the situation rapidly worse for citizens. The city civic body's figures reveal that in the last seven years, 400 trees have been illegally cut down in the city. The highest number of illegal tree felling cases, 100, was registered in 2021-22. Sources in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) say that while urban centres should ideally have 15% tree cover, Ahmedabad city's tree cover stands at a meagre 4.66%. According to the Forest Survey of India's 'State of Forests Report 2021', the city's forest cover, which was 17.86 sq km a decade ago, has fallen to 9.41 sq km, a 48% decrease. Sources in the AMC's parks and gardens department which has embarked on a drive to plant 2 lakh saplings in the city this monsoon, said the department has started stringent action against offenders. Sources said offenders are fined Rs 27,000 for chopping down a tree. This amount includes Rs 1,000 for damaging the environment, Rs 1,000 as administration charges and Rs 2,500 per tree for planting 10 trees as compensation for the offence. AMC officials said the civic body allows trees to be moved if they are obstructing construction. At the Naranpura Sports Complex, the civic body allowed the contractor to cut down 13 trees while 13 others were shifted and replanted. Some design changes were also made to save 11 trees. Jignesh Patel, director of AMC's parks and gardens department, said offenders are made to give an undertaking that they will plant 10 trees to compensate for every illegally cut tree. "We are taking stringent action against anyone who is found to have illegally felled a tree. We are also trying to raise awareness on the importance of green cover in the city," Patel told TOI.
Now citizens can lodge property tax complaints on AMC’s tollfree number. The number is used for complaints regarding water, drainage, street lights but now people can use it for tax complaints also.Applications regarding change in name, ownership, rental etc have to be done at zonal level but if they are not cleared within 15 days then one can lodge a complaint on the toll-free number. The person will get an SMS about the complaint and in case more documents are needed then the officials will reach the complainant. The complaint will be sent to divisional superintendent and if it is not taken up then will go to assistant manager and then deputy tax assessor and collector.Tax department employees will be trained for the purpose and the scheme will be launched from August 15, chairman of AMC’s Revenue Committee Jainik Vakil said.The AMC had announced 75 percent rebate in penal interest on property tax dues and in 8 days 1,800 people have taken benefit and they have been given Rs 46.40 lakh discount, he said.The property tax income including professional tax till now is Rs 678.88 crore. The highest is from the west zone at Rs 175.65 crore while the North zone had the lowest income of Rs 44.94 crore.North west zone recorded Rs 120.81 crore income, south west zone Rs 87.14 crore, Central zone Rs 86.60 crore, East zone Rs 56.37 crore and South zone Rs 47.31 crore.
AHMEDABAD: Reeling under tremendous financial stress, three civic authorities Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (Auda) and Gandhinagar Urban Development Authority (Guda) are now planning to raise funds from sale of its land pockets. The three civic authorities will sell a total of 23 plots totalling 1.38 lakh square metres. Authorities are expecting to raise Rs 1,000 crore through this land sale. While Guda has already initiated the process of bidding for sale of three residential purpose plots with a total size of 10,104 sq metres, AMC has decided to sell 15 plots measuring 94,411 sq metres. Auda has decided to sell five plots of 33,806 sq metres. Auda and AMC are likely to announce the auction of their plots in the near future.
AHMEDABAD: Amdavadis be warned, municipal authorities now fear that as the number of mosquitos in general and Aedes aegypti mosquitos in particular - the vector responsible for the spread of dengue, chikunguniya and zika viruses - are high right now, and will rise further, there is likely to be a spike in cases of these viral diseases in September and October. Right now, the density of the aedes aegypti mosquito is below two per room but this is likely to increase, say Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation health department officials. Already signs of their numbers increasing are seen in Nikol, Gomtipur, Asarwa and Vejalpur, where density has risen by one aedes aegypti mosquito per room. "Last year, the peak in Aedes aegypti numbers was seen between July and September, when there had been 2,000 dengue cases in a 30-day period. A similar trend is expected this year between September and October," said a senior AMC health official. Officially, two children - a 11-year-old boy from India Colony and a 10-year-old girl from Odhav - had died of dengue in the city last year. The Aedes aegypti density is 0.39 in the city. AMC has already taken 4,979 serum samples to test for dengue positivity and 1,030 samples are being processed. There had been 3,104 dengue cases in 2021, 432 cases in 2020 and 168 in the first seven months of 2022 in the city. "There are clear warning signs in the increasing aedes aegypti mosquito density. Overall mosquito density - of anopheles, culex and aedes genera -Ahmedabad has registered a density of 3.98 mosquitoes per room. Paldi has the maximum mosquito density of 24 mosquitoes per room," said a senior AMC official.