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Innovative Indian startups make Ganga clean & waste management cyclic


Ganga is not merely a river in India. Personified as goddess Ganga, the holy river is postulated as the lifeline of India and the cradle of human civilizations across ages. The river also known as Gange, Jahnavi, Nikita, Bhagirathi, Alaknanda, and Vishnupadi descended from the heavens, flowing from Lord Shiva’s Jata at the request of king Bhagiratha of the Ikshvaku dynasty.

Why it’s imperative to bring back river Ganga’s past glory?

The river has an imperative historical and cultural imminence across all parts of India. It is considered so pious that it is believed to wash away the sins of the entire humankind with a single holy dip. It is believed that a mere touch of the holy river can help one attain moksha and can even cure ailments. Once known for its crystal clear water and purity, river Ganga has been pleading for attention to revoke its deplorable state and bring back its lost glory.

How the government is doing its bit?

Steps have been taken by the government through the launch of mega initiatives like the ‘Namami Gange’ which has significantly worked on every aspect of countering pollution in the River Ganga. More than 342 projects have been sanctioned at the cost of Rs. 29,985.13 crore on several interventions of the Namami Gange Mission like:

  • Nirmal Ganga: For pollution abatement
  • Aviral Ganga: For improving river ecology & flow
  • Jan Ganga: For strengthening people-river connect, spreading awareness
  • Gyan Ganga: For facilitating diverse research, scientific mapping, and evidence-based policy formulation.

At the community level, innovative startups that are tackling pollution in river Ganga head on:

1.) Help Us Green:

As part of religious activities performed on the ghats of River Ganga, several biodegradable and non-biodegradable substances are immersed in the river that collectively leads to its pollution. Flowers are a staple offering at religious places throughout the country. However, they often end up in rivers.

Around 8 Million tonnes of flowers are dumped in the river, every year. It accounts for more than 16% of the total waste that ends up in one of India’s holiest rivers. Although flowers are thought to be completely biodegradable, the sheer volume combined with pesticides and insecticides leads to toxic waters, one of the primary causes of hepatitis b, cholera, and diarrhea.

What is the solution?

Thus, 2 young entrepreneurs from Kanpur, Ankit Agrawal, and Karan Rastogi found an ingenious solution to the seemingly complex problem in 2015 to ensure that ‘devotion doesn’t turn into pollution’.

The startup upcycles temple waste to produce India’s first charcoal and chemical-free incense sticks and scents, the world’s first biodegradable thermocol, and nutrient-rich vermicompost.

How to go about it? (Procedure)

For this, floral waste is collected from religious places like temples, gurudwaras, mosques, located along the ghats of Ganga.

This floral waste is first segregated and then treated. These are dried and then mixed with organic cow dung with about 17 natural components like corn cobs, coffee residue, etc to increase the nitrogen content in the end-product. Earthworms are then added to the mix after a gap of few days that lead to the formation of nutrient-rich vermicompost in a period of 2 months.

While 80% of the flowers are used for making vermicompost, the rest of them are crushed to make incense sticks. The process is entirely cyclic and ensures that absolutely nothing goes to waste. In addition, the products made by Help Us Green are packaged using discarded cartons from a liquor factory in Kanpur.

Icing on the cake (Added benefits):

While the startup primarily works to keep Ganga clean, it is also credited for many additional benefits to society and the environment at large. Thus, the innovative startup was also hailed by the UN as the world’s first profitable solution to the monumental temple waste problem:

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