Waste to Resource
TECH ICON SHARAD KALE, FORMER HEAD, TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER, BARC, MUMBAI, MAHARASHTRA
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.