Squad to check harmful colours in Holi.

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Bhubaneswar: A  joint squad of Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) and police to conduct inspections in shops selling harmful colours that are high on chemicals or toxic substances. The high court has given directives to both the agencies to conduct raids at shops selling such colours. Police sources said the squad would seize such unsafe colours.
Shops have been asked to show them the colour packets. The pollution board officer is examining the composition of the colours on the basis of specifications mentioned on the packets,” said city DCP Satyabrata Bhoi.Pollution board sources said chemicals used in colours not only pose danger to humans, but also pollute the city’s water bodies. “If people apply colours that contain chemicals like cadmium, it affects the nervous system and the kidney; mercury affects the brain and chromium can damage the liver. Holi colours also contain other chemicals that create skin rashes and irritate the eyes,” said OSPCB regional officer (Bhubaneswar) Hadibandhu Panigrahi.

 There are about 500 makeshift shops in the city selling Holi colours by obtaining permission from police. However, many don’t conform to the norms and sell chemical-based colours. “The HC directive to us specifically says that no chemical-laden colours should be available in the market. The inspection will continue on the day of the festival as well,” added Panigrahi.
 The natural ponds in the city bear the brunt of Holi as a large number of people bathe in these ponds after the celebration. An OSPCB study said last year colours made from dangerous chemicals were found in at least 70% ponds in the city. “When the chemicals dissolve in the still water in ponds, they pose a potential threat as they remain concentrated in the water,” said senior environment scientist Dilip Kumar Behera. He added that people should use herbal colours to play Holi.
The worst-affected ponds are Bada Pokhari, Nua Pokhari, Joka Pokhari, Malianta Pokhari, Bhim Kunda and Bindu Sagar. Environment campaigner Ghasiram Panda said a toxicological impact study on the ponds in the city should be conducted to assess the concentration of chemicals. “The study will reveal whether there are traces of industrial pigment dyes and other organic colours in the water,” he added.