Sat, Jun 16, 2007 - Page 9 News List

New 'green' pyre to cool planetwhile burning India's dead

A mechanical engineer has developed a pyre that cuts the amount of carbon dioxide produced by Hindu cremations by more than 60 percent

By Tripti Lahiri  /  AFP , NEW DELHI

Since then the Mokshda group has been actively promoting it across the country.

Mokshda has installed 41 pyres, while some cities, including India's financial hub Mumbai, have independently adapted the design. The group expects to put up about 20 more pyres this year.

In Faridabad, 30km from Delhi, 15 of the 75 cremations carried out each month at one cremation ground are performed on a Mokshda unit.

"It is good from the religious point of view and also from the point of view of the pocket," said Amir Singh Bhatia, who runs the city's Seva Samiti Swarg Ashram cremation ground.

Mokshda hopes its projects will eventually be registered under the Kyoto Protocol's clean development mechanism, which encourages green projects in developing countries.

It allows industrialized countries that have committed to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases to count reductions achieved through investments in projects in developing countries towards their undertakings.

More than a third of the 674 carbon credit schemes currently registered are located in India, producing about 15 percent of the mechanism's certified emissions reductions.

"We are in talks with a UK-based carbon broker" on whether the pyres can deliver carbon credits, said Anshul Garg, who develops new projects for Mokshda.

Money from the credits would enable the scheme, which is mainly supported by the Indian forest ministry and also has some backing from the UN Development Program, to become self-financing, he said.

But engineer Agarwal believes it will take at least a generation to entirely convert Hindus to the new funeral pyres that he hopes will lead to salvation — though not solely of a spiritual sort.

"My main mission is to save humanity," Agarwal said. "To save trees for mankind, for the coming generations."

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