Mumbai’s Ayaan Shankta wins global accreditation for his eco-conscious project

Mumbai’s 12-year-old Ayaan Shankta has won the third position in the 8–14 age category for his ‘Conservation and Rehabilitation of Powai Lake’ project by Action For Nature

A 12-year-old Mumbai boy, Ayaan Shankta has won the third position in the 8–14 age category for his ‘Conservation and Rehabilitation of Powai Lake’ project.

He has been named as 2021 International Young Eco-Hero by the Action For Nature (AFN), according to a press release issued on Wednesday.

Ayaan is one of the 25 young environmental activists from across the globe to be honoured by AFN as an International Young Eco-Hero. The award recognizes environmentally conscious youth aged between eight and 16.

Ayaan Shankta’s ‘Conservation and Rehabilitation of Powai Lake’

‘Conservation and Rehabilitation of Powai Lake’ aims to create community awareness to restore the lake to its original state and protect the surrounding flora and fauna. The 12-year-old began studying the root cause of the degradation and conducted a detailed survey of the lake.

Ayaan has recently designed the ‘Autonomous Spatial Pollution Detection Robot’. It is a self-driving robot capable of detecting pollution and siltation in lakes with spatial accuracy, the press release added.

“I plan to further this mission so that the lake regains its past glory as a clean and vibrant water body,” says Ayaan, “Which not only will help in bringing about the ecological balance in the thickly populated city like Mumbai but also help in conserving the endangered species.”

During his surveys, Ayaan learned that the rapid modernization and expansion of Mumbai had forced the lake to become a convenient place to dump construction waste or pump water for construction works. Powai Lake has also become an easy and accessible dump yard for nearby businesses, hotels, and residents. Interestingly, there is no regulatory body or enforcement agency to safeguard the lake ecology.

In addition to working with NGOs to raise awareness locally, the 12-year boy organised regular clean-ups. He also wrote an action report on the condition of the lake, which received a gold medal from the Homi Bhabha Balvaidnyanik Competition. He is currently making a documentary about Powai Lake.

Ayaan Shankta’s inspiration

The teenager lives in Powai, a suburb of Mumbai located near Powai Lake. The lake used to be a source of drinking water for Mumbai. While growing up, Ayaan’s parents took him to Powai Lake for weekend cleaning drives.

During his visit to the lake, he saw a gradual receding of the water level, and algae and shrubs covering half of the water body. This provoked him to think about environmental degradation and its effect on the overall ecological balance.

Powai Lake pollution

Powai Lake has seen several stages of water quality degradation. The government has declared the lake waters unfit for drinking and domestic uses due to pollution.

It supplies water for non-domestic uses in Aarey Colony and Larsen & Turbo. The Dissolved Oxygen level at the bottom of the lake is reportedly 0.71 mg/liter. The average pH value is 7.2, and COD is 42.70 mg/litre on the surface and 119 mg/ litre at the bottom.

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