Sometime in the early 1980s, West Bengal’s finance minister wanted to find out how to gainfully use Kolkata’s sewage. Dhrubajyoti Ghosh, an engineer in the state’s planning board, was assigned the task. He was to travel across the country and prepare a report within a year. He got his ticket to visit India’s first sewage treatment plant at Dadar, Mumbai. Then came a moment of introspection.
“It occurred to me that they might ask me how Kolkata handles its sewage,” Ghosh later recounted, “I didn’t know”. He searched high and low and found nothing. It seemed nobody knew what the city did with its sewage. So Ghosh did what officers aren’t encouraged to do in government policy: He went for a walk. He ambled along the 28-km channel that carried the city’s sewage eastwards, along the slope, to where the salt marshes once stood. Here, he saw shallow ponds that turned the city’s sewage into algae. Then, the algae-rich water was let into nurseries, to be eaten by fish, that was then sold in the city. A marvel of recycling, of turning waste into food.
Shortly after, Ghosh wrote an account of what he’d seen and sent it to Richard Meier, a famous American ecologist. Meier was delighted; he wrote back to tell Ghosh that if he invested five years in the wetlands of east Kolkata, he’ll make history. Ghosh replied he was ready to invest 10. He ended up dedicating most of his working life to the wetlands, right up to his death at the age of 71 in a Kolkata hospital last Friday, February 16. That the East Kolkata Wetlands (EKW) exist today, spread over thousands of acres, owes to Ghosh’s untiring efforts....Read more
Source web page:Indian Express