A trip to Umbergaon in 2014, where he saw villagers burning agricultural waste, sparked an eco-friendly thought in 61-year-old Rajan Kale’s mind. The former Air India cabin crew member, who was wondering how he would spend his life after retirement, realised he needed to spread awareness about the importance of managing waste.
What better place to start than Bhagirathi Safalya, the housing society in Vile Parle, he resides in! “I was in Umbergaon where people were burning dry leaves. As a nature lover, I felt I should do something for society and the environment. That’s when the idea of vermiculture came to my mind and I decided to implement the idea at home,” said Kale.
After its successful implementation in Umbergaon, he suggested the idea of composting kitchen and garden waste to his neighbours in Vile Parle. “They approved of the idea. Thanks to their support, the idea materialised,” he said.
Kale had a 6x6 feet pit constructed at the building’s compound, brought a few kilos of earthworms and urged residents to segregate their garbage. The kitchen waste was dumped into the pit, where earthworms converted it into rich compost that can be used to fertilise soil.
“However, after some weeks, the earthworms died. I did some research on the internet and realised that the pit was too big and waste was too little,” said Kale, who then constructed two new pits of 2x2 feet and took into consideration aspects like ventilation and temperature, among other minute details.
“After the renewed process, one pit is ready with compost between 45 and 60 days. On an average, around 50 kg to 60 kg vermicompost in a month is produced considering the fact that earthworms are voracious eaters and multiply very quickly,” he said.
According to Kale, the process is totally organic. “We can produce 10 kg of manure from 100 kg of wet waste, which is a great deal as the compost can also be sold in the market,” he said.
A resident of the society, Dilip Patil, lauded Kale’s efforts. “One part of the building’s compound had almost become a dumping yard because of the quantities of garbage we generated. We could get it clean because of Kale’s initiative. Previously, the municipal corporation truck used to take four waste bins from our society. Within months, it came down to two containing only dry waste,” Patil said. “Not only would our housing society, but even the society at large can be benefited if awareness about vermicomposting reach the common people,” he said.
Chandrakant Tambe, junior overseer, H-West ward, BMC, said, “It is definitely a good initiative. Anyone who does his bit for the environment is a hero. Handling waste at the residential and societal levels is the need of the hour.”