“Are you in Badlapur East now,” he asked.
We were; having arrived by the 11.25am Karjat local.
“Tell the autorickshwallah to take you to the new HP petrol pump …get down there. The first lane on the left leads to Gol Bangla,” he continued.
Old time residents know the place but youngsters and those who have moved in new are not aware that Gol Bangla exists. Last few years have witnessed several high-rises come up in the vicinity and blanketed the view of the double-dome structure, from the passersby on their way to Ambarnath on MIDC Road, Katrap.
Gol Bangla is the research center of Biotechnology Research Centre, run by the leading biotechnologist and vermiculture pioneer Dr Sudhir Ghatnekar.
Having failed to lay our hands on vermiculture, both in Mumbai and Thane, we were at the Centre. My readers would know that I had built a pit couple of months but was unable to bring in the would be residents. And it was a chance search on Google that brought me in in touch with Dr Ghatnekar. Having met him at his Wadala office where he questioned me on terms like extensive farming, intensive farming etc. And I could only bleat that I’m a learner and a weekend farmer. Which settled the issue and I got invited to the Centre with promise of vermiculture for my farm. At last, I thought I will be able to pay my respects to Darwin and do something meaningful for Mother Earth.
Being in media has its privileges and I have enjoyed my stint in this profession despite the measly remuneration. The only solace–you get to meet people from all walks of life. And today I was fortunate to have coffee with a biotechnologist under a cool dome. Though the structure did not have AC, its interior was really cool.
“It’s due to the shape,” Dr Ghatneker said. “The dome brings down the temperature by five degrees. And that’s why we had designed it so.”
Hidden behind a double-storied housing complex recently come up, the Centre with a perennial stream for company, a Ganesha temple, tall coconut palms, mango trees and a sole cherry tree “favourite among the mongoose family” is in a different world. An unlikely place from the hustle and bustle of Badlapur town, 20mins. away. How long will this last? is anybody’s guess.
For all its three sides has been taken away by the housing complexes which are coming up feverishly. The growth of Badlapur has been around 150% in the last couple of years. For here you can still own two-room flat for Rs 22 lakhs.
Dr Ghatnekar is worried but not in a hurry. “People do approach my workers here inquiring whether this place is on sale,” he says.
If it happens it would be biotechnology’s loss: for the Centre has been a home and workplace for over 50 students pursuing their Phds and still continues to be so. Besides BRC has a developed a world-class earthworm breeding program and has been maintaining a vermiculture bank since 1983. The starter cultures for some of the earthworm strains were obtained from Colby’s Research Farm, North Carolina, USA and Philippines Earthworm Research Center.
BRC has developed a state-of-the-art vermiculture treatment technology for effluent treatment for various industries. The technology uses the novel three-tier approach inclusive of earthworms, microbes and enzymes for waste treatment. The advantage of this technology is that the treated waste is a high-quality soil conditioner that fetches a decent price in the market. Vigorous research efforts of the BRC scientists on vermiculture technology have helped it to develop a top of the line technology for the production of very high quality solid and liquid biofertilizer products.
After a stay of over three hours we left with three vermiculture tubs and a can of enzyme. “Use only two of them for the pit and the rest is for multiplication. So that you have a seed bank,” advised Dr Ghatnekar. “the enzyme is for hastening up the process. Your compost will be ready within 45 days.”
Now, you know that if you need vermiculture where to look for. firstname.lastname@example.org; M:+919821041565, T: +91 22 24150133