Nirmala Kandalgaonkar Is Turning Her Dream Of Making Pune A Zero-Waste City Into Reality
- IWB Post
- May 2, 2019
How many people have you met who constantly complain about the growing pile of garbage near their house? But only a few of them strive to take a step towards rectifying the same. Vivam Agrotech, solid waste management in Pune, is one such rarity, as they have been at the helm of the mission of making villages in Pune clean. Leading this organization and its dream of a pollution-free planet is its chairperson, Nirmala Kandalgaonkar, who is eradicating waste and also bringing dignity to the life of waste pickers.
In Pune, waste pickers are often forced to segregate garbage by hand at a number of segregation centers of Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad municipal corporations. Because unlike Vivam Agrotech, who has installed a conveyer-belt driven waste segregator, the civic authorities haven’t installed any at the segregation centers. As the head of the organization, Kandalgaonkar conceives technical solutions in vermicomposting, biogas, mechanical and bacterial composting and power generation from biodegradable waste.
“When I was studying or growing up I had no idea or intention that I would own a large company, someday. It was just a mere thought of doing something for the people around me that give birth to Vivam Agrotech,” said Kandalgaonkar. For the majority of her life, she had been a homemaker and vowed to do something for the society as soon as her kids were older.
So, with the help of her husband, Girish, a mechanical engineer, she started working on composting units in Aurangabad which today has turned into Vivam Agrotech that has a turnover of Rs 5 crore.
“Waste in any form is found in abundance around us. My idea of starting the business was based on three aspects, accessibility, availability and useful by-product. All of these fit exactly when it came to vermicomposting,” she said. “Initially, I worked with women from villages with an aim of empowering them. It was a simple step-by-step process; there was nothing tedious or technical.”
“They started selling compost to farmers in the area while some even used it in their kitchen gardens. Thus it was a win-win situation for all. I started buying chemical and residue-free yield from them and sold it to health providers. The sale brought them a better income,” she added.
Along with the municipal corporation, she launched smaller house units for solid waste management. “It was a cycle that only made a profit. The raw material was easily available at no extra cost and the sale of the compost brought in money. We then branched to hotels, hostels, and temples too. We explained to them how the waste generated at each of their premises can be used to their benefit,” she said.
She also started her waste-to-power project in 2008 at Chiplun in order to make use of the waste generated in hotels and hostels.
“People need to understand the value of recycling and reusing waste. It takes very little effort to help convert waste into something useful. I want people to take it up themselves to bring about the change. If a housewife like me could bring about these experiments then anybody can do it,” she said.
H/T: Hindustan Times