Making wealth out of temple waste

By TheHindu on 26 Jul 2018 | read
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Every afternoon, P. Muthukumar and R. Sekhar clamber onto their segregated tricycles and go around the four Chithirai streets of Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple. Bags of old flowers that once adorned the deities and piles of onion peels, carrot and beans stalks from the temple kitchen await them in lonely corners. After hauling the biodegradable waste sacks onto their vehicles, they cycle back to their green shed and weigh the collection. These workers of Exnora create magic in the form of manure from temple waste.

The Mission Sunehra Kal was launched one and a half years ago at the temple’s car parking area. Temple authorities, Madurai Corporation and Exnora came together to discuss the best waste management techniques to apply around the heart of the city. ITC Group showed interest in funding the project. To change the practice of throwing temple’s biodegradable waste away, the organisations established a green shed.

G. Mohan, president, Exnora Madurai, says the green initiative is not restricted to temple waste. The men on tricycles visit 1,000 houses and collect tonnes of biodegradable waste. They sort and dump the waste into large compost bins at the green shed.

“We get about one tonne of floral and vegetable waste a day. It is segregated and placed in eight composting bins. We use additives like microbes to hasten composting and stir the mixture with a shovel at regular intervals. Since our product is organic, we require 45 days to make fresh batches of manure. After this, we lay it out in a covered space to remove moisture for about two days. The mixture is later sifted and packaged,” says Mr. Muthukumar.

For every tonne of waste, Exnora gets about 200 kg of manure. This is used in the temple gardens. Mr. Mohan adds that the 1,000 households also get a small (one kg) bag of waste for their contribution.

“It was initially launched to control the release of methane gas. Garbage accumulated in bins was later dumped in landfills. These large spaces tend to release high levels of methane, making Madurai susceptible to climate change. Small initiatives like this will help in restricting biogas emission,” he says.

Exnora also sells saplings and compost making kits at the parking lot. Interested persons can contact G. Mohan at 9842188442.