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Utilizing religious waste to generate organic fertilizers in Indian temple corridors and reduce water pollution.



India is primarily a Hindu country with multiple religious corridors - cities with multiple temples of religious significance. As part of Hindu religious rituals, flowers are offered in the temples. As of now, the religious waste (called nirmalaya) at major temples is collected and then dumped in the river as it is considered inappropriate to dump it in the garbage. As an example, the Varanasi-Allahabad religious corridor in Northern India generates about 70 to 100 tons of religious waste everyday. This unplanned exercise does not yield any major benefit and in fact pollutes the river by reducing the oxygen level and causing silting. In order to avoid this, a organic fertilizer plant can be set up which can collaborate with temple trusts to collect their flower waste and convert that in a specially branded fertilizer, say Mandir Manure to create positive sentiment. This exercise would yield rich dividends to everybody-the Temple trust, the private company, the river and to people by generating jobs, while reducing water pollution in the rivers.

Category of the action

Reducing emissions from waste management

What actions do you propose?

The idea is to develop a framework for developing bio-fertilizer ( organic fertilizer) plants in religious corridors that can convert religious waste into useful bio-fertilizer. This will ensure that the religious waste is not discarded into rivers such as Ganga, Yamuna etc, without hurting religious sentiment around waste disposal.

A typical process flow would be :

1) Religious wastes (mainly flowers) would be collected from major temples in the city.
2) This religious waste would be then transported to a bio-fertilizer plant.
3) The bio-fertilizer plant would use rapid composting using technologies such as Vermiculture Technology to turn religious waste into useful organic manure. A typical plant would be able to generate 20-30 ton of such bio-fertilizer per day.
4) This bio-fertilizer can then be supplied to the market for farm distribution or through e-commerce retailers as garden manure.

Such bio-fertilizer plants can be setup through government, cooperative society or private players. They can be piloted as part of the Ganga Cleaning initiative ( see references) to access the impact and expanded to other regions accordingly.

Who will take these actions?

The key players in implementing a structured mechanism for manufacturing Organic Fertilizer using religious waste are :

  • Government institutions such as NCDC to provide subsidy, loan and guidance.
  • Municipality to collect religious waste and establish agreements with manufacturers.
  • Temple trusts to formulate agreements for handing over religious waste
  • Private players/cooperative societies to develop the bio fertilizer plant using a PPP model ( Public-Private Partnership model).
  • E-commerce players (Optional) : E-commerce companies who can market organic manure as garden fertilizer.

Where will these actions be taken?

The bio fertilizer plant based on religious waste is suitable for India where there are multiple Hindu religious corridors. Some example corridors where such plants can be developed are :

  • Varanasi-Allahabad (70-100 ton per day)
  • Haridwar-Rishikesh (60-100 ton per day)
  • Delhi-Mathura (40-50 ton per day)




What are other key benefits?

The key benefits of this solution include :

1) Establishment of a bio-fertilizer framework for religious waste will result in reduced dumping into the river thereby helping in reducing water pollution in the rivers.
2) Since religion has a special significance and place in people's mind, bio-fertilizer from such waste will have wider acceptability. This will help in reduced dependence on inorganic fertilizers in the region where it can be made available.
3) A bio-fertilizer plant of this type can generate direct employment for 100 people and indirect employment for as many as 400 people, thus helping the local rural economy.
4) Advanced bio-fertilizer plants can be developed that generate bio-gas in addition to organic manure, thus serving multiple purposes.

How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

What are the proposal’s costs?

The project cost will depend upon the capacity of the unit and technology adopted.While the exact economic costs would vary from region to region, as per the data provided by National Cooperative Development Corporation, India (NCDC), the cost of setting up a unit are as below.The Government of India provides a subsidy of 25% for setting up such a unit. In addition, the Government provides multiple loans and waivers to fund the project.

Project Outlay – Model Project on 200 TPA / Shift Bio-fertilizer Unit
Land and  Building
S.No  Item                                                         Estimated Cost ( in Rs)
1        Cost of Land (Title Exchange)                 1,00,000
2        Land Leveling                                           1,00,000
3        Fencing & Compound Wall and Gates    5,00,000
4        Civil structure                                           30,00,000
          Total                                                         37,00,000          
Plant Machinery and Equipment   
S.No  Item                                                          Estimated Cost ( in Rs)
1         Essential equipments  for QC                 20,50,000   
2         Equipments for biomass                         65,00,000                    
3         Equipments for packaging and storage  32,50,000 
           Total                                                        118,00,000
Other expenses
S.No    Item                                                      Estimated Cost ( in Rs)
1           Initial setup and Interest                       5,00,000   
2           Margin money for working capital        2,50,000
3           Preliminary and Pre-op.expenses       2,50,000
4           Contingency Fund                                5,00,000
             Total                                                    15,00,000
Total Project Outlay                                     Rs.170,00,000

Time line

While the exact timeline for implementing such a project would depend on government clearances and agreements with temple trusts, a typical bio-fertilizer plant can be operational within 1-2 years, considering Government of India has a strong mandate towards Cleaning Indian rivers.

Related proposals


1) National Cooperative Development Corporation, Government of India

2) National Mission for Clean Ganga