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'Nirmalya' segregation and Flower Recycling

The Nirmalya project on Akashwani ( Hindi)

One of the biggest outputs of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival is the tonnes of 'nirmalya' - the offerrings collected during the immersion. These offerings are made of several items : flower garlands, fruits, coconuts, spices, honey and camphor. While most of the offerings themselves are made of natural items, they come wrapped in plastic bags, plastic boxes or glass bottles.

Traditionally, these items were meant to be immersed with the Ganesh idols, as an offering back to nature. However, since immersion of these on large scale is bound to cause problems, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has successfully convinced devotees to deposit their 'nirmalya' bags in kalash shaped bins near the ghats.

Yet, the fact that non biodegradable materials such as plastic or thermocole accompany the offerrings, makes it necessary to appropriately manage the 'nirmalya' collected.


For 2007, a group of three NGOs including Kalpavriksh Environment Action Group, Center for Environment Education and the Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP) came together with the PMC to take this process one step forward.

The KKPKP is a union of women ragpickers whose work involves segregation of domestic garbage into various recyclable items and to see that they are appropriately recycled. This project involved posting members of KKPKP at various ghats along the main rivers of Puen during visarjan days. The women will collect the nirmalya bags and make sure all the contents of the bags are correctly seperated into biodegradable and non biodegradable substances.

Food items such as fruits and coconuts are taken home by the women or distributed to the poor. The bulk of the flowers collected will be composted by the PMC for their public gardens.

eCoexist will be sponsoring an experimental project which involves using flowers collected at the Yerawada and Bund Garden ghats to make natural colour. This project has been inspired by work we are already doing around the festival of Holi.
  Nirmalya collection

The women prisoners of the Yerawada Central Jail have already been trained on how to make natural colour from flowers such as marigold. In 2006, this experiment was carried out on a smaller scale along with the children of the ASHA school under the banner of Kalpavriksh .

The success of the project will depend on two unknown factors:
1. The quantity of nirmalya collected.
2. The weather.

If the monsoon continues , the drying process of the flowers may not be complete and the flowers will then be used to make compost for the jail farms.
     Flower recycling training at Yerawada jail
    Lolita Gupta of eCoexist teaching the women prisoners of Yerawada
Raw nirmalya Petals drying
Raw nirmalya  Drying the petals
  Sorting nirmalya

Sorting of nirmalya


The expenses of the transport to the jail, the training of the women and the wages of the women will be borne by eCoexist.

This project has recieved the approval and support of both the PMC as well as the Yerawada Jail authorities.

The natural colours that are made through this process wil go into the Natural Holi Colour project for 2008.
 
 
 
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