Nirmalaya collection drive moves from ghats to doorsteps in Pune

Authorities have appealed to devotees to perform immersions at homes and mobile tanks arranged by PMC
Pune Municipal Corporation volunteers and waste pickers at several spots across Pune have collected nirmalaya from devotees during the Ganesh festival.(HT PHOTO)
Pune Municipal Corporation volunteers and waste pickers at several spots across Pune have collected nirmalaya from devotees during the Ganesh festival.(HT PHOTO)
Published on Aug 29, 2020 04:58 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Pune | ByPrachi Bari, Pune

The seventh day of 10-day Ganpati festival on Friday saw a lot of immersions on a rainy day. Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) volunteers and waste pickers at several spots across the city collected nirmalaya (flowers, puja accompaniments and garlands) from devotees who immersed idols at the mobile tanks arranged by the civic administration.

In the light of Covid situation and public appeal for performing immersions at homes and tanks, PMC has not placed collection pots near riversides. The civic authority made arrangements for home collection of nirmalaya by volunteers and waste pickers.

“Last year, we had collected 900 metric tonnes of nirmalaya during the festival. Till the sixth day of festival this year, we have collected 18,635 kg of nirmalaya across 191 collection centres in the city,” said Dynaneshwar Molak, head, solid waste management (SWM) department, PMC.

PMC has tied up with SWaCH and Cummins India to collect nirmalaya from doorsteps. SWaCH waste pickers will handle it and send for organic composting separately.

The collection drive will be continued till September 2.

“We have appealed to over 30 lakh devotees to handover nirmalaya separately as it will help in organic waste processing,” said Saru Waghmare, SWaCH waste picker and board member.

Every year, waste pickers of SWaCH in partnership with PMC, Cummins India, Emcure and Sudarshan Chemicals divert more than 100 tonnes of nirmalaya from rivers towards composting.

In keeping with the safety guidelines, Suchismita Pai, SWaCH representative said, “Over the years, we have been interacting with residents and have brought about a behavioural change whereby devotees handover nirmalaya to our waste pickers at the ghats, which is then composted and distributed to local farmers. This year, with support from PMC and Cummins India, we have distributed 11,000 special bags to our network of 3,500 waste pickers just for nirmalaya collection and we request citizens to hand over nirmalaya offerings to their doorstep SWaCH waste picker. The material will be transported in separate PMC vehicles and sent for organic composting.”

Shobha Bansode, a waste picker who has been at the ghats every year during immersion, says, “We have adapted to working with PPE kits over the past four months and have been at work every day. This is yet another change that we must adapt to. We draw comfort from the fact that we are still facilitating the work of the Ganesh festival. We do it out of a sense of devotion and duty.”

Some of the residents took to recycling puja offerings within their homes like Devendra Mali, resident of Ravet. “This year has been different and we immersed the idol in the bucket and used nirmalaya to create compost for our plants.”

Another devotee Vrishasen Dabholkar used no flowers or any other decorations except for cotton necklace and beads which can be recycled on Ganpati made of mud. “We immersed the mud idol in a bucket and used the soil to plant new seeds in a plantation box. This year, we did not spend on buying or bringing flowers and garlands. Instead used glass beads and paper garlands as accessories for the lord,” said Dabholkar.

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