What is Flower pollution? Is it so bad?
"Sitting here by the Ganges I can tell you, before we take a bath in the Ganges we need to give Ganges a bath.”
Ma Ganga, it is known in Hindi: “Mother Ganges”. It’s an apt name - the Ganges has nurtured and supported the rise of Indian civilization. People think Ganga can take care of my sins, can take care of anything, and they forget that while Ganga can take care of our sins it cannot take care of our waste, of our pollution. We are always fed with the notion that industries are polluting our rivers and most of the times we end up feeling 'nothing can be done about it' or 'the government should take some action' etc. But rarely do we think of flowers as a source of pollution.
Chew on this - The 9000 Crore Floriculutre industry in India is growing at five percent annually. How are the farmers able to grow these tonnes of flowers and meet the markets needs? The answer is simple - Chemical Pesticides , Insecticides and Fertilizers.
1. Toxic chemicals in the farm-runoff join sweep into the ground poisoning the ground water. As the stream snakes down from the farmers it gathers pace and volume, joined by hundreds of others bringing along the hazardous chemicals from the alluvial plains into the river Ganges .Indian Council of Medical Research says that rates of gall bladder cancer in areas drained by the Ganga are the highest in the world.
2. The harmful pesticides and insecticides used to grow the flowers remain as residue on the flower. This residue mixing with the river water killing the fragile ecosystem of the water body
3. The vast amount of flowers approximately 80,00,000 metric decompose along with the faecal coliform bacteria giving rise to severe diarrhea, cholera and other water borne diseases
STAGE 1 - The flowers from temples are heaped and sent to the local water body to respect their sanctity and rituals. India has about 638,000 villages, 5000 towns and 400 big cities. A Tamil proverb says DON’T LIVE IN A TOWN WHERE THERE IS NO TEMPLE. A Sanskrit proverb says SEEING A TEMPLE TOWER GIVES YOU A 10 MILLION GOOD THINGS (Gopura dharsanam, Koti Punyam). The number of Hindu temples in India is a puzzle. Government data shows that we have a readily available list of 108,000 temples. But our estimate is that we have at least 600,000 temples. Imagine the amount of flower being used at these temples and then being sent to water bodies for disposal!
STAGE 2 - The flowers end up in the local water body and start rotting. “beta yeh sab ka Jalprabah kar dena” (dispose the left over items in the river) is a phrase that every indian has heard. But little do we know the effect of this ritual on our rivers. Flowers from thousands of temple end in rotting in the rivers.
STAGE 3- The toxic chemicals mix with the river water.
STAGE 4 - The arsenic that gets into the river doesn't flow down. Iron and oxygen in the water form ferroso ferric oxide, which in turn bonds with arsenic.
STAGE 5 - Our fishes die