A BURNING PROBLEM

by Kishore Mariwala

Cremation of dead is a morbid subject. However, it is a reality and not only has to be accepted but it needs to be seen as a ritual that cannot be avoided. However, it poses a major problem for India. 

Consider the population of our country, the deaths taking place every year and hence cremations taking place every year and the number of trees cut every year for these cremations!  It is a staggering figure!  I have done some research and would like to show you the picture that emerges. 

  • Population of India is 132.4 Crores; (Google gives this as World Bank Figure)
  • Death rate in India is 7.3 deaths per 1000 of population (Wikipedia)
  • Calculating on the above facts, annual deaths in India are: 98,00,000 (9.8 Million)
  • Considering that Hindus, who cremate the dead and Hindus being 80% of the population, the number of persons cremated every year are: 78,00,000 (7.8Million)
  • A body requires approximately 450 kg (or 0.45 Tonnes) of wood for cremation. (Times of India; August 28/2018). It is widely reported in media that the number of cremations performed in crematoria is extremely small.
  • Thus total wood burnt in cremations is 7.8 X 0.45 = 3.51 million tonnes = 35,100,000 kg;
  • Average weight of a tree used for cremation is 90 kgs. 
  • Number of trees cut every year for cremations is thus = 3.51/0.09 = 39 Million Trees! 
    (All these figures are obtained from Google and they are from reputed sources.)

It is a well-known fact that the depletion of the trees has resulted in depletion of rainfall, drying of our rivers, erosion of soil and thus depletion of the availability of water.

So it’s time each of us started planting trees in India!

(Kishore Mariwala is a chemical engineer from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an avid sailor, a founder-member of Indian Institute for Human Settlements and a member of the Governing Council of Marico Innovation Foundation)

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