Agra- the city most popularly known for Taj Mahal has another “sweet” connection.
It is the delicacy called “petha”, which is made from winter melon in the oldest streets of the city. But what is a rich delicacy to the tourists visiting the city is a becoming a grave concern for the citizens of Agra. The waste created by this informal petha industry is causing air, land and water pollution which has reached catastrophic levels.
Few points are -
- -Total of 1,000 petha units operational within a localized area of 3-4 sq. kms.
- -200 Tons of petha waste is generated every day. This creates a staggering 70000 Tons of petha waste every year.
- -All of this waste is dumped in the open.
- -Open dumping causes the waste to rot, thus attracting insects & infectious bacteria.
- This results in frequent epidemics of malaria,dengue and enteric fever.
- -Open dumping in drains causes this waste to mix with other plastic waste which pollutes river and ground water.
- This is a critical health and environmental hazard being faced by the city dwellers.
What is the solution?
Since petha is actually a fruit, it is biodegradable. If it’s not mixed with any other plastic and industrial waste, it can be treated. The key aspect is storing this waste separately and keeping it clean. Once it is separated and cleaned, it can be converted to extremely valuable compost via a completely natural process of accelerated composting. This decomposed fertilizer or compost is a rich nutrient for soil. It removes soil toxicity, makes the soil fertile and retains moisture for plant growth.
By actively engaging with petha manufacturers, we have already started making compost with petha waste. Going forward, we can treat 1000 Tons of waste this year and make organic fertilizer from it. This will not only remove the waste from our living environment, but convert it into a rich fertilizer for the soil. Thus, there is a double impact of treating this waste. We convert a vicious cycle causing negative effects, into a virtuous cycle with positive benefits.
Additionally, this compost when sold in the market generates revenue which is used for paying waste pickers and incentivizes waste creators to keep the environment clean.
We are setting up a Waste treatment facility which can treat 1000 tonnes of petha waste in this year. By treating this waste, we would produce 250 tonnes of compost/organic fertilizer.
This would be sold to farmers to make 200 acres of land fertile. By cleaning up this waste, we will improve living conditions for 1000 people in this localized area.
Our treatment facility will be showcased to the UP Pollution Control Board, Yamuna River Connect program, and other environmental agencies. We will also attract the global attention of environmentalist and propose this working model for converting a waste into a resource.
The Total budget we intend to raise through crowd funding is 8,80,000/-. This shall be used for various activities involved in setting up the first phase of this waste treatment facility. Further break up of expenses is shown below –