JOHN L. PAUL
Innovations from thoughtful minds
These students decided to make some positive changes around them.
Young scientist: Shameer S Hameed with his prize.
The strong urge to do something to change the state of affairs for the better is what differentiates some people from the others. And this is exactly what two brothers from Kendriya Vidyalaya, Cochin Port Trust - Shameer S Hameed of standard VIII and his brother Shahid S Hameed of standard X did. They had to cross a railway line to reach their house from school and had to tread around human excreta littered on the tracks from train toilets. They highlighted the issue to th
e school’s science teacher Ajith S R, who often holds sessions with the students to identify the problems that they face. The brothers also mooted a solution based on inputs suggested by Mr Ajith to modify the toilets of Indian trains that are notorious for directly discharging untreated waste onto the tracks.
Two other students Nithesh Prabhu and Deepthi Murali too joined in the endeavour. Their idea of collecting the waste in underground tanks and later treating them for use in bio-gas plants, won the first prize at the national-level science exhibition 2007-’08, organised by the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan. The theme was water management. The team will represent KVS at the Jawaharlal Nehru Science Exhibition organised by the NCERT.
“Apart from people having to bear the repulsive sight and smell, the seemingly innocent action of the Indian Railways has led to contamination of land, waterbodies and fields on either side of the tracks,” says Shameer.
The germs from human waste find their way into food and water. A passenger who is sick can potentially spread his disease over a wide area. Discharge of untreated toilet waste also corrodes the rails and its fastenings. The students have proudly displayed a working model of the modified toilet, at the science lab of their school. “Apart from making good use of the waste materials by treating them and using them as the energy source in kitchens, we wanted to ensure that the water is recycled and pumped back into the flush tanks of train toilets,” says Shameer.
The students have mooted a retention tank each beneath the two toilets on either side of the train compartment. As the train reaches a railway station which has a biogas plant, the stored waste material (along with water) is pumped into the digestor tank of the plant. The water is separated, filtered and treated chemically using phenol and chlorine. It is then passed through charcoal, so that the charcoal sucks a good portion of chemicals, the odour and other toxic materials in water.
This water is re-circulated to the train’s overhead tank which supplies water to the toilet flush. The solid waste becomes fuel for the biogas plants that power hearths in canteens of major railway stations.
Their science teacher Ajith says that this is just one of the novel products that students of the school have made. A mechanical table, using which a person who has lost his hands can take food and a low-cost solar water heater are among the other innovations. The school’s vice-principal, Philomena Mechery, could not hide her joy at the team becoming national toppers at the Kendriya Vidyalaya level. “Ours is among the few schools that are focussed on encouraging students to come out with such innovations,” she said.
Send this article to Friends by