New Delhi: Did you know one of the reasons behind deforestation in states of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana is reckless cutting of trees to fulfill the requirement of fresh wood for cremations in Delhi? In the national capital Delhi, 300-350 funerals take place daily. Nigambodh Ghat, the largest and busiest crematoriums in New Delhi, alone witnesses at least 50 cremations every day and each funeral requires 400kgs of wood. In addition to the environmental impact of tree cutting, the traditional funeral pyre adds to the perennial problem of air pollution as well. But a team of seven students from IIT Delhi has come up with an alternative to contain the detrimental impact on environment of burial rituals.
From small to big, Delhi has n number of Gausahlas (cowsheds) and in these gaushalas, huge amount of cow dung is generated. While major chunk of cow dung is used as manure, a portion of it is used to make cow dung cakes. But a fair share of cow dung which can be transported to other parts of the city for different purposes is dumped in rivers like Yamuna, Hindon and others, because of high cost of transportation, says Sankalp, Senior Undergraduate, Department of Mechanical Engineering at IIT Delhi, to NDTV.
Today in some parts of the country cow dung cake is used for cremation. Taking inspiration from the same, IIT Delhi students decided to replace ‘wood logs’ with ‘cow dung logs’ and solve the problem of deforestation, air pollution, and unsystematic dumping of cow dung.
The idea was to make logs using cow dungs and then use it for cremation. To bring down the levels of pollutants, we mixed wood shaving, and bagasse with cow dung. Using these logs, lead to seven per cent reduction in Carbon Monoxide and 13 per cent decline in Nitrogen Oxide, compared to pollutants produced on combustion of regular cow dung logs, explains Sankalp.
Cow dung logs produced by IIT Delhi students are not only eco-friendly, but also cost effective. While the wood log is priced at Rs. 5 – 5.5 per kg, cow dung log is valued at Rs. 3 – 3.5 per kg. Currently, the team of students is trying to bring down the levels of pollutants even more in their cow dung logs. Talking about the same, Sankalp says,
The problem with the machine we used to manufacture logs is they take their own sweet time to dry up, making the entire process slow. We are working on a prototype drying machine under which we will increase the cooling rate.
Once the prototype is ready and its cost is finalised, the team will do a market test and look out for funds. Though the team is of the opinion that cow dung logs will easily be accepted by the masses considering it is already in use for centuries.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollution, clean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.