New Delhi: A green lush garden with 1000 plus trees and each producing different kinds of vegetables and fruits. This rich produce is being grown within a hospital complex right in the middle of the bustling part of town in South Mumbai. A rare sight in a city like Mumbai this green space is the result of productively putting kitchen waste to use, which is what Dr. R. N. Cooper Municipal General Hospital owned by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has successfully done. Converting 150 kilograms of kitchen waste to manure has yielded this regular supply of pumpkins, sweet potatoes, lemons, tomatoes, capsicums, banana, to name a few, that then is used for organic farming within the hospital area. Explaining this unique environment-friendly initiative to NDTV, Subhash Dalvi, Chief Nodal Swachh Officer of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, who initiated this process at Cooper hospital, said,
In the backdrop of Cooper Hospital lies the secret of the effective waste management system and that is called vermi-composting. What we do here is simple, we collect the green raw waste from our kitchen on daily basis like vegetable peels, egg shells, etc. and put it in the compost pit. In 10-15 days, we get half decomposed material which we further use in vermi-compost smart plants where we have various species of earthworms that help us make the final byproduct – manure. This whole process of making manure with the help of worms is called vermi-composting.
Remembering how the idea was initiated by him in the hospital, Mr Dalvi said,
“As a swachh officer, I used to follow one simple rule of waste management and that was segregation of waste at home. Slowly, I started making manure using vermi-composting process and looking at the benefits and outcome, I wanted to take this initiative outside my house at a community level. During that time only, I went to Cooper hospital for a family check-up, there I came across an empty land and that was it. I recommended the idea to BMC and the hospital and soon we started the process at within the hospital premise.”
In 2016, the process was started in Cooper hospital and it was first in the city to initiate it. Today, the hospital has become the role model for effective waste management and the same process is already being replicated in 15 more areas of Mumbai.
Talking about the key features of making manure through vermi-composting, Mr Dalvi added,
This whole process requires daily 1 hour from you and is so simple that even a layman can become an expert. In four weeks’ time, we at Cooper hospital make 5 to 7 kilograms of manure which is further used by us in growing our own veggies.
Explaining the design part of the compost pits, Mr Dalvi said,
We have 5 compost pits at Cooper, three on one side and two on the other side. And, each one is designed in such a way that it is connected to one another. These compost pits are made using bricks, have a height of 2 ½ foot and width is of 4 ½ foot. Basically, the width is twice the average of height. The top layer of the compost pit is covered with a net to protect the manure from birds and other insects. The bottom one foot of the pit is covered with water and earthworms and on alternate days the half-decomposed material is added to the compost pit. Regular watering in the compost pit with worms is necessary. In one months’ time through this process manure is made. The best part of this design is that worms don’t have to be separated from the compost manually. They leave the compost pit and goes to another pit once the materials are isfully decomposed through a special connecting chamber in the pits. And then we repeat the process in another chamber and make the manure.
32-year-old Ashwani Borude from a local Self-Help Group of Mumbai, who looks after the process at Cooper, added,
The benefits of using manure through this process are so many – the plant quality and the lavish green colour of the leaves speak a lot. The fruits and veggies we are producing are way better as compared with a normal plant, plus this process requires less investment in terms of money and time.
In addition, Cooper Hospital also uses recycled water for gardening purposes by treating nearly 2 lakh litres of sewage from residential quarters, hospital and medical college.
Cooper Hospital’s eco-friendly practices have today inspired many people in Mumbai, the recent being the students from St Joseph school, who visited the hospital and were so inspired that they have undertaken similar practice in their school.
Our aim is to teach as many people as we can in the city, as this is the need of the hour. We need to start treating waste as wealth – as it is then only way we will be able to reduce the waste load from our country’s shoulders, signs off Subhash Dalvi.
In Pictures: Dr. R. N. Cooper Municipal General Hospital’s Waste To Manure Process