Waste to Re­source

TECH ICON SHARAD KALE, FOR­MER HEAD, TECH­NOL­OGY TRANS­FER, BARC, MUM­BAI, MA­HA­RASH­TRA

India Today - - SAFAIGIRI - —Ki­ran D. Tare

Ihave kept the dust­bin at the din­ing ta­ble,” says Sharad Kale, a bi­ol­o­gist whose in­ven­tion, Nis­ar­gruna (debt of na­ture), has changed com­mon per­spec­tives on the treat­ing of biodegrad­able waste. “For you, it is a dust­bin, but for me, it is Nis­arg Lak­shmi (rich­ness of na­ture).” The re­tired sci­en­tist from the Bhabha Atomic Re­search Cen­tre (BARC), Mum­bai, has been in­stru­men­tal in en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to de­grade wet waste with in­house so­lu­tions. He has de­vel­oped sev­eral “cul­tures” made up of nat­u­ral wastes like left­over food, leaves and banana skin. A bucket filled with this cul­ture works as a base for the degra­da­tion process. The cul­ture mixed with biodegrad­able waste pro­duces good qual­ity fer­tiliser in six months. “It smells like first rain and is free of in­sects,” says Kale.

Around 45 years ago, Kale's mother taught him to wor­ship a broom as she con­sid­ered it equiv­a­lent to rich­ness. Since then, Kale has not thrown his house­hold garbage out. He de­grades it in the house. His per­sonal war against garbage took a pro­fes­sional turn in 2001 when he de­vel­oped Nis­ar­gruna as a chal­lenge. Then BARC di­rec­tor Anil Kakod­kar asked him whether he could find a so­lu­tion to the foul odour gen­er­ated from the garbage in the com­pany premises. Kale nod­ded in af­fir­ma­tion and de­manded a fund of Rs 5 lakh to de­velop the tech­nol­ogy. “In the next hour, Kakod­kar sanc­tioned the fund and I be­gan work­ing on it,” Kale says. The first Nis­ar­gruna plant was set up in BARC it­self. At present, more than 300 such plants are op­er­a­tional across the coun­try in premises such as the Tata Group as well as the In­dian Navy. Any­one can buy the tech­nol­ogy from BARC for Rs 25,000. It costs ap­prox­i­mately Rs 14 lakh to set up a one tonne garbage treat­ment plant.

At Matheran, around 70 km from Mum­bai, 150 street lights beat the power short­age. Thanks to the Nis­ar­gruna plant set up by the lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil, it not only keeps the town clean of biodegrad­able wastes but also gen­er­ates 130 KW of elec­tric­ity per hour.

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