Sustainable Development

MISSION:

To ideate, invent, innovate and implement socially and environmentally responsible, ecologically sustainable and economically viable solutions that can serve to make co-habitation cosier and better on this planet.

The journey of Ashram in sustainability started much before it became fashionable to talk about  it. Anuben, the founder of MSA, believed firmly in living and growing in harmony with nature.

“Sustainable development” refers to a way of human development wherein the use of resources meets human needs while preserving the environment, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs, and it can refer to economic, ecological, political, and cultural sustainability.
 
Muni Seva Ashram is an active agent in the drive for sustainable development, with large-scale interests in organic farming, agro forestry, horticulture, animal husbandry, solar energy, and biogas. This is also reflected in the Ashram’s new website address, www.greenashram.org

Over the years, the Ashram had made a sustained effort to use modern technologies to reduce the use of conventional resources. Some of the Ashram’s efforts towards promoting the use of renewable energy are:
  • Heating Water: Solar flat plate collectors are used to heat 31,000 liters of water that is used everyday at the Ashram’s kitchens, guest houses, and hospitals.
  • Cooking:
    • Meals for 200 students of Sharda Mandir Baxi Punch School is cooked using 2 Scheffler dishes of 10m2 each
    • At the Green Campus in Vankuva, lunch and dinner for 400 students is cooked using 10 Scheffler dishes of 10m2 each, and thermic oil as a heat carrier.
    • Box solar cookers and SK10/14 parabolic solar cookers are also used for domestic cooking and demonstrations.
    • The students of the schools in Vankuva assembled and showcased the Celestino funnel solar cookers at this year’s VCCI Vibrant Gujarat Trade Summit.
  • Solar Photovoltaic Systems:
    • Since grid power was not available when Green Campus was being built, a 13KW solar power plant was installed to meet the lighting and ventilation demands of the schools and hostels.
    • Most of the street lights at the Ashram are automatic, self-contained solar photovoltaic systems (with panels mounted on the light poles)
  • Air-Conditioning:
    • A system of 100 Scheffler dishes of 12.5m2 each meets 100 of the 600 Tonne Refrigeration (TR) required by the two hospitals in the Ashram. This is the first solar air-conditioning system of its kind in India.
    • Previously, when the supply of power from the grid was not steady, the entire air-conditioning system was based on Vapour Absorption Chillers that used wood and other biomass sourced from the farm or from nearby markets.
  • Biogas:
    • The biogas plant at the Ashram’s Gaushala also uses kitchen waste to generate gas which is piped across the road to the kitchens in the Ashram
    • The biogas produced at Green Campus through cow dung is piped to three homes for domestic use
    • Another 430m3 biogas plant, fuelled by cow dung, press mud from sugar mills, chicken litter, and kitchen waste, produces the gas that is enriched by scrubbing and is bottled under pressure. This compressed natural gas, or Bio-CNG, fulfills the needs of the Ashram’s main kitchen located in its guest house, Athiti Mandir.
  • Biomass Gasifier:
    • For irrigation pumps at Green Campus, electricity is produced by an internal combustion engine that is fuelled by producer gas generated by partial combustion of biomass.
    • Another 90KW engine in Utilities also runs on producer gas
    • The Muni Seva Ashram was the first in Gujarat to install a gasifier that runs entirely on producer gas
  • The Green Campus at Vankuva is a 120-acre farm, a third of which has timber plantations, a third is fruit orchards, and and rest is available to grow food and fodder.
    • A wide range of scientific methods are used to make compost with the biomass generated at the farm, including windrow composting, NADEP, biogas slurry, and pit-composting
    • Kitchen waste generates gas and manure
    • Solar and wood gasifier to reduce the cooking-related wood consumption and carbon emissions
    • Drip irrigation to conserve water
    • Inter-cropping and crop rotation to revitalize the soil
    • Only faithfully organic farming: no chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides are used on the farm
    • To protect bio-diversity, no life form is slaughtered (except feral swine)
    • More use of ingenious, and less of mechanical means for farming
    • Water harvesting to maintain water table at its natural level
    • 25 Gir breed heifers are reared at the campus
  • Gaushala:
    • It has a gas plant which produces cow dung slurry, a rich source of nitrogen for the farm.
    • All biomass generated at the farm is used for producing vermi-compost, a very rich natural manure.
    • The gas plant also converts waste from several kitchens into rich manure.
    • No chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides are used here.
    • Inter-cropping and crop rotation is practiced to revitalize the soil
    • In all, the Ashram manages 3 Gaushalas and one heifer rearing center. We have the two indigenous breeds of India - Gir and Kankrej. Our motto is to provide clean and wholesome milk to cancer patients, staff and guests of the ashram, and and people of the surrounding areas, and to conserve the indigenous germplasm. Organic farming, and scientific feeding and breeding policies are practised at all four locations.
    • All Gaushalas with male calves are given to poor farmers in the vicinity at a nominal cost. We also conduct camps in surrounding villages for vaccination, treatment of gynaecological disorders, and deworming of cattle, and organise conferences to extend scientific knowledge of animal husbandry to farmers.
    • Cow urine, a rich source of nitrogen, is used in farming, and cow dung is used in renewable energy powerhouses. These biogas plants, in turn, fuel the ashram’s kitchens and vehicles.
    • We have appointed a veterinary surgeon on a permanent position to attend to these very valuable gifts of nature.
How Can You Help?

To keep 450 cows for a day, we need:

Green fodder (20 kg per cow)     Rs. 13,500
Dry fodeer (10 kg per cow)         Rs. 27,000
Concentrate (2 kg per cow)         Rs. 13,500
Feed supplements, etc            Rs. 1,000
Feeding all 450 cows             Rs. 55,000
To buy a new cow            Rs. 40,000

Over the years, the Ashram has gained an experience and expertise in sustainable development, and is now ready to offer consultancy and solutions through its newly formed MSA Renewtech Foundation. It is a company under section 25 of Companies Act 1956 that is a wholly owned arm of the Ashram, and is mandated to return all profits to the Ashram.