Mumbai

Dharavi’s potters move to smoke-free kilns

Mumbai 06-02-2018 :Pot Makers from Dharavi Kumbharwada using the Advance Pottery Wood Pallet Furnace to control the Smoke & Pollution compare to the old Mud Bhatti.
Photo : Rajneesh Londhe

Mumbai 06-02-2018 :Pot Makers from Dharavi Kumbharwada using the Advance Pottery Wood Pallet Furnace to control the Smoke & Pollution compare to the old Mud Bhatti. Photo : Rajneesh Londhe   | Photo Credit: Rajneesh Londhe

Residents witness marked reduction in pollution and health complications

Bharatbhai Tank (47), whose family is among the 200 families in the pottery business in Dharavi’s Kumbharwada area, has convinced a few potters to switch from traditional chullas to smoke-free kilns to curb pollution.

Seven members of Prajapati Sahukari Society, working for the welfare of potters in Kumbharwada, have in the past two months started using new smoke-free furnaces. The kilns use sawdust and biomass wood pellets as fuel in contrast to the 70 traditional wood-fired open chullas used by other potters in Dharavi.

One-stop shop

The 200-member potter community of Dharavi supplies everything from cooking pots and decorative lamps to flower pots and and clay vessels. Mumbaikars also depend on them to supply lamps for Diwali and kheer pots for Eid. However, these families face health issues such as asthma, burns, and eye problems owing to the use of chullas.

Vilasrao, a daily wage labourer, says, “The old furnaces were lit openly causing great amount of smoke. The workers suffered asthma and other respiratory problems. The new ones have eased our work. We just have to ensure there’s fuel to light the burner.”

Mr. Tank says, “People who live in houses near kilns suffer from health problems. That is why we decided to come up with a new idea to decrease pollution. It has been only two months since the first smokeless furnaces were set up. Now we have seven such furnaces. A chimney is connected to every furnace to prevent the spread of smoke. Other potters are also slowly adopting this method.”

Divya Dhole, BJP secretary, Dharavi, funded one of the seven kilns through her trust Sankalp Siddhi.She said during a visit to the area in 2014, she noticed smoke emitting out of the furnaces.

Ms. Dhole said, “We initially thought of connecting gas pipes to these furnaces but due to space constraints it was not possible. When the potter community came up with this new idea of smoke-free furnaces, we decided to help them. The new furnaces are affordable and we have witnessed a decline in respiratory problems and air pollution.”

Children back in action

Children of the area who were kept away from the old furnaces now move about freely. Dr. Afaque Farooqui, a local doctor, said the maximum number of patients in Kumbharwada suffer from asthma, severe cough and skin allergies. Dr. Farooqui says, “The new initiative is expected to reduce the health troubles of residents.”

With the smoke-free chullas already getting attention, Mr. Tank and the other potters have started conducting monthly workshops in schools and colleges to share their new idea with students.

Mr. Tank says, “We also welcome anyone who wishes to fund these smoke-free kilns or wants to promote this idea.”

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Printable version | Jul 8, 2020 8:22:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/dharavis-potters-move-to-smoke-free-kilns/article22696122.ece

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