50,000 Trees Saved And Agricultural Waste Prevented From Burning By This Nagpur Warrior, Here’s How

50,000 Trees Saved And Agricultural Waste Prevented From Burning By This Nagpur Warrior, Here’s How

10 years ago, 52-year-old Vijay Limaye from Nagpur, decided to find an alternative to wooden logs used in cremation and today he saves at least 1,000 trees from felling every month
Maharashtra, Waste Warriors Of India
- in Maharashtra, Waste Warriors Of India
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50,000 Trees Saved And Agricultural Waste Prevented From Burning By This Nagpur Warrior, Here's HowIn 2010, after cremating his father’s body, Vijay Limaye from Nagpur started researching for eco-friendly alternatives to wooden logs
Highlights
  • Mr Limaye first introduced cow dung cakes as an alternative to wooden logs
  • The supply of dung cakes couldn’t meet the demand and lead to a price hike
  • In 2016, Mr Limaye presented Moksha Kashtha briquettes made from agro-waste

New Delhi: “If you have never planted even a single tree in your entire life, you don’t have a right to cut a tree for the cremation. It’s like spending money without earning it”, explains 52-year-old Vijay Limaye from Nagpur who is asking people to replace wood logs with briquettes made using agricultural waste for cremation. In conversation with NDTV, Mr Limaye said that a traditional Hindu cremation involves a funeral pyre built using around 350kgs of wood. For each cremation, two 15-year-old native trees are cut. He added, “According to a research I did a year and a half ago, 1.6 crore trees are cut every year for cremation. Most of the trees chopped to fulfill the demand for fresh wood for cremation are native from the Indian Peninsula. These are mainly Mango, Neem, Banyan, and Peepal trees and are expected to live up to 400-500 years. Unfortunately, these trees are cut at a tender age of 15-20 years. This way, we are depleting our green belt.”

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The concept of cutting trees for cremation hit him when tragedy struck home and Mr Limaye’s father passed away. In 2010, after performing a traditional Hindu ceremony of last rites for his father, Mr Limaye was left feeling with a sense of guilt for having opted for wood for cremation and contributing to the felling trees .

Following this, Mr Limaye, an insurance surveyor and loss assessor, started looking for different methods of cremation. While travelling and visiting one crematorium after another, Mr Limaye discovered a common yet less explored method of cremation – using cow dung cakes. He said,

In villages near Nagpur and Chingwada area, whenever someone dies, every household gives around 50 cow dung cakes to the family of the late person. It is considered as a last gift to the dead. The cow dung cakes are used in the cremation process.

Mr Limaye liked the concept and found dung cakes as a viable alternative to wood logs and decided to promote the same in Nagpur city. With the help of Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC), Mr Limaye initiated a pilot project at one of the 14 crematoriums in the city and started promoting the use of dung cakes.

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People who own cows and buffaloes got employment because of our initiative and everything was going well until the demand exceeded supply and in turn affected the price. People who would give dung cakes for Rs.1 per piece soon started demanding Rs.5 per piece because of which the overall cost of cremation increased from Rs.4,000 to Rs.10,000. Secondly, we realised that collecting cow dung and preparing dung cakes was a task during the rainy season. In the long run, we would not be able to meet the demand, said Mr Limaye.

Green warrior’s quest to find an eco-friendly and affordable alternative to traditional cremation came back to where it started from. While passing an agricultural field, Mr Limaye saw heaps of crop residues being burnt. He recalled,

Stubble burning is not a problem of Punjab and Haryana alone. It makes news because it adds to the air pollution of Delhi. However, the practice of burning agricultural waste is prevalent across India.

When Mr Limaye saw agricultural waste on fire, he decided to utilise it for the cremation. He purchased it from farmers and started experimenting with waste to prepare prototypes for cremation. Explaining the process and journey to finding the perfect alternative to wooden logs, he said,

I started spending hours at crematoriums, noting how much time it takes for a body to burn down completely (generally, three hours). I had to build something that could burn for at least three hours. Every now and then I would convince a family to use biomass briquettes for cremation and see how it works. Sometimes, the trial would give 60 per cent result and sometimes 80 per cent. After varied permutations and combinations and nine trials, I got success. In 2016, the tenth cremation that was done with ‘Moksha Kashtha’ (wood for salvation) briquettes was 100 per cent successful.

50,000 Trees Saved And Agricultural Waste Prevented From Burning By This Nagpur Warrior, Here's How
‘Moksha Kashtha’ (wood for salvation) briquettes made by waste warrior Vijay Limaye from Nagpur

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Mr Limaye now purchases agricultural waste from farmers, which is then chopped into small pieces of 5mm and compressed in a machine to make cylindrical blocks. The briquettes are prepared using bagasse, soybean waste, cotton stock, and saw dust.

Explaining how using agricultural waste solves the problem of air pollution and save trees from getting axed, Mr Limaye said,

Crop residue is burnt anyway. But by replacing it with wood logs, we are burning one less item which means less pollution. In addition to this, around 250 kg of briquettes is required as compared to 350 kgs of wood logs used in each cremation. Also, the cost of eco-friendly cremation is 20 per cent less than the traditional method (Rs.2,700 to Rs.3,000).

Since 2016, six crematoriums in Nagpur city are using ‘Moksha Kashtha’ briquettes for cremating 500 bodies every month. In the last four years, Mr Limaye and team have saved over 50,000 trees and now plan to expand the initiative to other crematoriums in the city.

50,000 Trees Saved And Agricultural Waste Prevented From Burning By This Nagpur Warrior, Here's How
Pyre of biomass briquettes made using agricultural waste for cremation

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Nagpur is one of the cities in Maharashtra where the municipal corporation bears the cost of wood required in each cremation. When Mr Limaye introduced the concept of eco-friendly wooden logs, the municipal corporation extended full financial support. Talking about Mr Limaye’s idea and what motivated the government to support him, Dr Gajendra Mahalle from the Solid Waste Management department of Nagpur Municipal Corporation said,

We liked the idea of not cutting trees and using agricultural waste without compromising with the process. By supporting him, we are also doing our bit in protecting the environment. To promote the use of briquettes at six of the crematoriums, we have told the citizens that while briquettes will be provided for free, we will charge for wood based cremation.

Talking about how he convinced the government and people to opt for briquettes, Mr Limaye said, the citizens knew about his initial experiment with cow dung cakes. Also, people prefer pyre over electric or gas cremation and briquettes help in keeping that process intact. Apart from this, he would reiterate his thought, ‘if you have not planted trees then you don’t have a right to axe them’.

50,000 Trees Saved And Agricultural Waste Prevented From Burning By This Nagpur Warrior, Here's How
A body being burnt on a pyre of biomass briquettes

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World

19,59,54,660Cases
6,30,45,359Active
12,87,22,004Recovered
41,87,297Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 194 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 19,59,54,660 and 41,87,297 have died; 6,30,45,359 are active cases and 12,87,22,004 have recovered as on July 29, 2021 at 4:00 am.

India

3,15,28,114 43,509Cases
4,03,840 4,404Active
3,07,01,612 38,465Recovered
4,22,662 640Deaths
In India, there are 3,15,28,114 confirmed cases including 4,22,662 deaths. The number of active cases is 4,03,840 and 3,07,01,612 have recovered as on July 29, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

62,82,914 6,857

85,913 466

60,64,856 6,105

1,32,145 286

Kerala

33,27,301 22,056

1,50,040 4,164

31,60,804 17,761

16,457 131

Karnataka

28,99,195 1,531

22,592 82

28,40,147 1,430

36,456 19

Tamil Nadu

25,53,805 1,756

21,521 667

24,98,289 2,394

33,995 29

Andhra Pradesh

19,59,942 2,010

20,999 34

19,25,631 1,956

13,312 20

Uttar Pradesh

17,08,313 87

768 30

16,84,790 116

22,755 1

West Bengal

15,25,773 815

11,370 10

14,96,294 811

18,109 14

Delhi

14,36,093 67

573 3

14,10,471 61

25,049 3

Chhattisgarh

10,01,651 164

2,226 164

9,85,905 327

13,520 1

Odisha

9,72,517 1,703

15,765 65

9,51,049 1,699

5,703 69

Rajasthan

9,53,605 30

268 10

9,44,384 40

8,953

Gujarat

8,24,802 28

274 11

8,14,452 39

10,076

Madhya Pradesh

7,91,778 11

130 8

7,81,135 18

10,513 1

Haryana

7,69,828 32

702 1

7,59,499 28

9,627 3

Bihar

7,24,673 76

480 4

7,14,554 80

9,639

Telangana

6,43,093 657

9,314 77

6,29,986 578

3,793 2

Punjab

5,98,947 65

559 24

5,82,102 84

16,286 5

Assam

5,62,731 1,276

14,499 536

5,43,031 1,791

5,201 21

Jharkhand

3,47,049 27

237 10

3,41,686 36

5,126 1

Uttarakhand

3,41,934 60

672 13

3,33,901 47

7,361

Jammu And Kashmir

3,21,026 160

1,139 15

3,15,511 144

4,376 1

Himachal Pradesh

2,05,499 116

953 30

2,01,026 84

3,520 2

Goa

1,70,810 81

1,082 48

1,66,586 127

3,142 2

Puducherry

1,20,627 97

923 0

1,17,912 96

1,792 1

Manipur

95,824 1,003

10,922 120

83,392 871

1,510 12

Tripura

77,788 376

3,861 107

73,177 267

750 2

Meghalaya

63,014 541

5,456 124

56,510 409

1,048 8

Chandigarh

61,943 5

36 1

61,098 6

809

Arunachal Pradesh

47,142 342

4,301 14

42,617 325

224 3

Mizoram

36,407 1,110

11,610 686

24,657 424

140

Nagaland

27,586 114

1,350 34

25,684 78

552 2

Sikkim

25,856 240

3,117 42

22,406 198

333

Ladakh

20,320 6

64 6

20,049 12

207

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,642 3

41 3

10,597 6

4

Lakshadweep

10,155 6

76 6

10,029 11

50 1

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,531 1

7 5

7,395 6

129

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