In a month, three Mumbai crematoriums will use agricultural waste instead of wood to cremate bodies as part of a civic body experiment aimed at saving trees.
Teachers Colony in Bandra (East), Vaikunthdham Cremation grounds on Reay Road and the Gujarati Seva Mandal cemetery in Bhandup will use briquettes — agricultural waste compressed into blocks. Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials said this will help save trees. “One body needs the trunks of two trees, which is nearly 300kg of wood. Once the tree is cut, it takes at least 15 years for it to regenerate — that is if it is replanted,” an official told HT.
“This idea was inspired by Vijay Limaye, 49, a mechanical engineer from Nagpur who has been advocating such eco-friendly cremations for the past four years,” said Dr Padmaja Keskar, the city’s executive health officer. Around 250 bodies at three crematoriums in Nagpur were disposed of using briquettes.
“I have been looking for an alternative to firewood. When we started using briquettes, we realised it burns the body completely faster than firewood,” said Limaye. “The Briquettes will also ensure some form of income for farmers.”
The briquettes are also a cheaper option, official said. At present, the BMC buys fire wood for Rs8 a kg, but provides it to crematoriums at subsidised rates, sometimes even free, the official said. Briquettes will cost Rs6 kg.
“Briquettes are prepared from agricultural waste, which are otherwise burnt off by the farmers, so it’s a good alternative to firewood,” the official added.
Mumbai has 54 municipal-run crematoriums and 121 run by citizens’ groups, both of which receive subsidised firewood.
Earlier, to reduce use of firewood, the BMC introduced electric, LPG and PNG cremations, but these facilities haven’t found many takers. BMC data showed of 49,637 cremations in 2015, only one in five were done using electric, LPG and PNC facilities. “People prefer firewood owing to religious and sentimental reasons,” said an official at a crematorium in Worli.