For the seventh year running, Pune-based NGO, SWaCH, will send members and volunteers to the visarjan ghats to collect discarded offerings, which will then be recycled
While most of the city has been busy with frenzied preparations until today, trying to give Ganpati the best welcome possible, city-based NGO, SWaCH Seva Sahakari Sanstha Maryadit, has been preparing to ensure that the annual visitor gets a clean and eco-friendly farewell as well, with its nirmalya campaign.
SWaCH waste picker members collected 97 tonnes of nirmalya from visarjan ghats last year. PIC/Amit Kumar Thavaraj
For the past six years, SWaCH has conducted the Nirmalya campaign during Ganeshotsav, bringing together its waste picker members, as well as volunteers from across the city, to collect offerings such as flowers, coconuts, fruits etc. that are discarded during visarjan. Last year, 90 SwaCH waste picker members and 450 volunteers collected 97 tonnes of nirmalya from 15 ghats in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) areas.
“This year, 100 SWaCH waste picker members will be spreading out across 17 ghats to persuade devotees not to immerse nirmalya in the river, and to recover dry waste such as paper, plastic and thermocol, which will then be recycled. Coconuts, fruits and other edible items will be taken and distributed amongst the family members of the waste collectors, and all the other food waste will be composted along with the nirmalya,” Aparna Susarla, data manager of SWaCH said.
In the seventh year of the initiative, the organisation has appealed to citizens to join the campaign. In past years, the NGO witnessed a strong response from college students, who volunteered to collect the offerings, as well as create awareness amongst devotees about the need to recycle the nirmalya, instead of dumping it in the rivers.
This year the campaign will be run on seventh day of the festival, on September 4 and on the last day of the festival — September 8, between 3 pm and 10.30 pm. “This year, Gauri visarjan is on the seventh day. Most of the families immerse the idols on this day. That’s why, we are also covering this day, along with the last day, in our campaign,” said Susarla.
SWaCH is organising a volunteer orientation meeting on August 30, at 5 pm at Arun Vaidya Stadium, Bhawani Peth. Those interested in joining the campaign can contact Aparna Susarla on 9765405481 or Claire Thompson on 9168078483.