An easy vermi-composting initiative to process wet garbage and reduce the load on dumping grounds while also creating a greener and healthier city
Metros, like Mumbai, face a major issue of garbage disposal. Mumbai produces approximately 6,000 tonnes of garbage every day. Municipal bodies deal with this by transporting the garbage collected everyday to long distances to designated dumping grounds. The massive fire at Mumbai’s Deonar dumping ground, which resulted in toxic pollution of nearby localities, has finally turned the spotlight on this serious issue.
Coupled with the prime minister’s call for Swachh Bharat, there is growing awareness among people about the need to process the garbage they generate and reduce what goes to the dumping grounds—after all, the space for land-fills is also depleting fast. There are several aspects to this burgeoning problem of municipal waste disposal—segregation of garbage, its treatment and reduction. But the first step is to segregate organic and inorganic waste and process the former in-house, to reduce pressure on dumping grounds.
Prakash Dandekar has done just that, by pioneering, with Kalpataru a simple and easy to adopt solution to the issue of organic waste. This includes kitchen waste, horticulture waste, paper waste, etc, and inorganic waste including glass, metal scrap, thermocol, plastic waste, etc. The latter is invariably produced in factories run by human beings, while the former belongs to nature and can be returned to nature. How?
“Vermi-compost is the process of using surface layer (epigenic) earthworms and micro-organisms to convert organic food waste into dark, nutrient-rich manure,” points out Mr Dandekar, who has come up with a solution to make this process effortless.
For those interested in the science behind this process, Mr Dandekar explains that there are some 3,000 species of earthworms. The main species useful for vermi-composting are Eisenia Fetida and Eudrilus Euginie. They live close to the surface of the soil and are useful for composting. They feed on decomposed organic material. Their life span is two years, on an average. They grow and reproduce quickly.
Composting earthworms prefer decomposed food, points out Mr Dandekar, which has high nutrients and relatively low carbon. Ideal food includes decomposed fruits, vegetables, kitchen waste, some animal manure, garden waste, paper, corrugated boxes, etc. Worms do not prefer materials with high content of ammonia, nitrogen, fats, oils, etc. These include onion, lemon, garlic, etc. These earthworms eat only dead and decaying food. They cannot eat live plants or any other live material.
“Composting earthworms eat food which is as much as their own body weight”, jokes Mr Dandekar. Earthworms release micro-organisms from their body, such as bacteria, algae and fungi. These micro-organisms facilitate decomposing of the organic waste. Within 90 days, organic waste can be converted into compost (manure) with the help of earthworms. Vermi-culture is composed of earthworms, cocoons and baby worms.
Mr Dandekar says, “Use any container with proper aeration of minimum 1CFT (cubic foot) in volume. Put 2-3-inch layer of coconut flax or sugarcane bagasse or dry leaves at the bottom. This material has good water-holding capacity. On top of this layer, put 2-3-inch layer of decomposed cow dung. Next, put 2kg of vermi-culture containing around 50-70 earthworms. Sprinkle water from the top so that all the layers are properly soaked. Daily, add wet garbage of about 1kg. Sprinkle water every alternate day. Put a tray below the container, to collect the extra drained water. Stir the added garbage twice a week. As the garbage decomposes, its volume reduces and it settles down. About six months later, the container will be full. Stop adding wet garbage and water for 2-3 days. Slowly, remove the top layer which is not yet decomposed. Below that you will see the compost formed.”
The impact is magical. Call or write to Mr Dandekar to get his little magic box, shown in the image and start composting your own waste, to take the pressure off the municipal dumping grounds.
Dandekar Niwas 588-89/5,
L J Cross Road No 1,
Mahim, Mumbai 400016
Mobile +91 9820784291