Read How IIT-Delhi Students Are Solving Two Environmental Issues At The Cost Of One

Due to religious reasons, in more than 95% funerals in India, wood is used for cremation. But who would have thought that it could be a major factor contributing to the wastage of wood and in return affecting our eco-system? Thanks to these 40 IIT Delhi students, who not only thought about it but also introduced a solution that not only solved this problem but also solved another for free.

It was a mere observation

Enactus,  IIT Delhi started an initiative called ‘Arth’ under which the team did a survey estimating amount of wood used for cremation every year and came across some behemoth figures. They chose Nigambodh Ghat for this purpose. Although CNG was also an option, yet 45 out of 50 cremations there were done using wood as a fuel. On calculations based on average number of cremations per day and amount of wood used per cremation, the estimated amount of wood used every year was found to be 3.4 crore kgs which was only possible by sacrificing over 4 lakh trees every year. They also found that a lot of dairy farm owners were facing the problem of cow dung disposal. Improper disposal into water bodies caused pollution and clogging. They were two different problems but one was the solution to other.

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Although the burning ghat has both wood and CNG facilities, most people prefer wood as they burn better,” says Awadesh Sharma, in charge of Nigambodh Ghat.

Approach one, solve both

The team decide to use processed cow dung as a fuel for cremation which was in accordance with the religious beliefs of society. They developed a drying machine that worked on green house principle to remove moisture from cow dung followed by passing them through a log making machine. The output was logs of cow dung which was tested during cremation of an unclaimed body. The results were outstanding. This new fuel burnt the same as wood but was less polluting. 

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We saw positive results — there was less pollution and the process was smooth. We are now working on manufacturing a machine that will help us produce more logs,” says Raj, a student of mechanical engineering.

Technology preserving beliefs

This new initiative might have emerged with the help of technology but is preserving religious beliefs at its best as cow dung is considered holy and is used for over centuries for this purpose. This will play a major role in eradication the cow dung disposal problem along with supporting the nature in the best way possible.

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