Written by Ruchika Goswamy
For a greener and cleaner Ganesh Visarjan, Pune wastepickers’ cooperative SWaCH will deploy at least 300 wastepickers at 22 ghats in the city to divert nirmalyas (flower offerings) from rivers and other natural water bodies to specially designated containers.
“What once started as an act of devotion nine years ago has now become something we do every year to ensure the nirmalyas do not end up in rivers. Several SWaCH wastepickers, who are present at various ghats, divert and segregate nirmalyas into containers provided by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) when people come to immerse their idols,” said Suchismita Pai, outreach function head of SWaCH.
She said their prime objective is to segregate the nirmalya into two forms — dry and wet. The wet waste that is collected then undergoes composting — the dry waste is either reused or recycled.
“The wet nirmalya that we accumulate is then collected by trucks stationed at the ghats by the PMC. The compost is given to farmers around the city. As for the dry nirmalya, we consider recycling the items. Last year, we had collected at least 108 tonne of nirmalyas of which 30 tonne was dry nirmalya,” said Pai.
The PMC has installed several immersion tanks around ghats to avoid idol immersion in rivers as artificial colours and Plaster-of-Paris are hazardous to water bodies. “Although several people have become more environmentally conscious and immerse idols in tanks, others come to immerse in ghats and our job is to divert them to designated water tanks. Last year, we ensured that 4,200 idols were immersed in water tanks instead of rivers,” said Pai.