Bhopal-based Dr Yogen Saxena is doing his bit to reduce pollution caused by wood by replacing it with cow dung logs.
Being the first-ever energy source to be harnessed by humans, wood fuel can be used in various forms for purposes such as cooking food; heating or drying things; making ceramics, tiles, and bricks; and generating power. However, wood has some disadvantages as well. Burning of wood produces soot, smoke and ash which causes air pollution. Additionally, wood is also a non-renewable resource considering that we are running out of space for trees due to urbanisation projects. Therefore, its consumption needs to be carefully monitored and we need to come up with alternatives that will not cause as much pollution but could still provide the same functions as wood.
Dr Yogen Kumar Saxena seems to have found a solution. A renowned scientist from Bihar, he is known for developing a technique that produces logs from cow dung. He has built a machine for this, and these logs are ready to use as fuel. The machine uses dry cow dung mixed with some water as a paste as raw material. It then compresses the mixture and gives the output the form of cow dung logs. These logs are then sundried for 4–5 days before they are ready to use.
These cow dung logs have numerous benefits. First is that they make use of something we usually consider waste. In general, cow dung generated in cowsheds are disposed of in nearby water bodies and causes water pollution. Reusing cow dung reduces this kind of water pollution. Second, using cow dung logs does not require deforestation for the purpose of fuelwood, so tree-cutting for that purpose can be avoided. Third, burning cow dung logs also generates 43.9 per cent less particulate matter, 55.18 per cent less sulphur dioxide, and 24.8 per cent less carbon monoxide as compared to wooden logs, and overall, causes 35 per cent less air pollution than if wooden logs were used. Fourth, cow dung logs are also meant to be used in a smaller quantity than wooden logs so they are quite cost-effective. Fifth, manufacturing cow dung logs also generates revenue for cowsheds and provides care for several cows in nearby areas, thereby promoting domestic businesses.
With this impressive list of benefits of using cow dung logs, Dr Saxena has successfully built a network of owners of cowsheds and cremation grounds, through which communication is facilitated regarding the use of cow dung logs in Bhopal. The network’s prime focus is on cremation grounds as using these logs is more environment friendly and causes less hassle than if wooden logs were used. However, increasingly, the use of cow dung logs is also extended in cultural celebrations like Holika Dahan, industrial boilers, and making handicrafts like diyas.
In the initial phase of this project, people had their reservations about this venture and refused to use cow dung logs instead of wooden logs. But with consistent efforts, Dr Saxena and his team have been able to install these machines in 18 cowsheds in Bhopal, and have also extended this in cities like Jaipur and Raipur. Cow dung logs have also been recognised by the government of India as a reliable energy source.
With the numerous benefits these cow dung logs offer, no wonder Dr Saxena is gaining popularity as Gaukashth Man of India!
Researched and written by Saloni Chona, Team ulaunch.