Let The Children Lead Bangalore Out Of Its Sewage Mess

Students of Inventure learning about solutions to the problems they are inheriting

“We got to see what happens after we flush.
If we keep building more STPs we can fix the problem Bangalore is facing on sh_t.
This visit showed us that there is still a hope for the future.”
~ Aarushi, 8th Grade

“The sewage treatment plant was functional and very efficient,
it was interesting to see different steps of the process.
The water went in as sludge but came out as clean drinking water.
This is very efficient and I think if we can recreate this same model around Bangalore,
then we can clean up Bangalore.”
~ Nikhileshwar, 8th Grade

18 February 2016

Inventure Academy starts a collaboration with Peer Water Exchange (PWX) to study the generation of sewage and options for treatment as part of its initiative - Our Lakes, Our Voice (OLOV).

The OLOV initiative started by having students study the degradation of Varthur Lake. They understood the sources of pollution and studied the (lack of) quality of the lake. But how do you clean it?

“Until we stop the inflow of pollution, we will never be able to clean our lakes.
Until we stop sewage flowing out from apartments into our streets and lakes,
we will never have a clean Bangalore.
This generation of passive parents are just watching
as the problems increase for their children.
Our hope is to make children active and stop adults from their bad habits."

~ Rajesh Shah, parent and executive director, Peer Water Exchange

Peer Water Exchange started an awareness program with Inventure. Rajesh Shah and Dr. Surendra Kulkarni spoke with 8th graders, educating them on the sewage issue and solutions. Using statistics and stories, Rajesh pressed upon the students the gravity of the situation they were inheriting due to the passivity of their parents’ generation.

Dr. Kulkarni explained the technology and biology behind sewage treatment plants (STPs). He shared his experience with restoring a lake. The interaction with students about a taboo topic elicited many questions, of which some were unanswerable.

After two hour-long discussions, 80 students were taken by the PWX team to visit three sites (see map) on 11th February. One was Rainbow Drive, which has a beautiful phytorid STP, green and full of flowers.

“The residents of Rainbow Drive had a unique, self-imposed type of sewage treatment plant, functional for 10 years. The process was largely natural based; the sewage was run under the roots of various flowering plants and harmful minerals are absorbed through the roots in a strictly confined bed. The flowers made the STP visually attractive, while underneath the soil the plants were doing their work. The water was then collected and put through secondary treatment processes. The finished product water samples were clean enough to use for gardens, toilets, etc.”
~ Pranav, 8th Grade

Another stop was at Lake Shore Homes where an ASP-technology STP has been serving the community for 15 years.
Inventure students at Lake Shore Homes STP

“The STP was functioning properly and we could see the difference between the starting sludge and the clean water that came out at the end. The end product was clear and did not have any smells. Everything looked like it was running fine. It seemed like it didnt take a lot of space either because all of it wasn't side by side but the tank was on top of other components. This would not be so hard to recreate in our own communities even if you did not have a lot of space.”
~ Vibhan, 8th Grade

The team then took the students out to visit a tall 234-unit apartment complex with a swimming pool that brazenly discharging raw sewage in open drains, causing stench and health hazard to themselves and their neighbours.

“We saw the sewage just flowing outside their building and we saw poor children who were living right next to it and they didn't care about their health. This journey made me be more considerate about my surroundings.”
~ Mannat, 8th Grade

Besides generating awareness, the goal of PWX is to get the students report on the sewage situation in their own apartments. PWX has created a survey for any Bangalorean to fill regarding the status of the STP at his or her residence. The goal is to build a large database of STPs including technologies, operators, water testing labs, and examples of water reuse. Using this database, PWX can share successful examples to emulate and help communities with non-performing STPs to fix or build. If all communities do not let any sewage out, it will lead to a clean Bangalore with swimmable lakes.
Students with teacher Ms Saiqua Zaki (right), Dr. Nirupama (center), Dr. Surendra Kulkarni (left back)

Inventure’s Co-Founder and CEO, Ms. Nooraine Fazal, attended the presentation and was happy to see students getting mobilized. “We love that PWX has chosen to focus on students, sharing solutions that can be implemented today. We need a few students from every class to engage with their home communities to start making a visible difference.”


As a followup to the field trip, the children were asked to enter field notes on the three STPs they visited, which the public can read on the PWX website:

About Inventure

Inventure is a school whose aim is to instill in students the ability and conviction to realise their full potential, be socially responsible citizens and excel anywhere in the world. Together with other schools, Inventure Academy strives to present opportunities to the students to become socially responsible citizens with a voice to recommend and make changes to the world around them.

About PWX

Peer Water Exchange is a non-profit trying to awaken urban citizens to take charge of their sewage problems without waiting for government. PWX has an open and transparent platform and crowdsourced process allowing thousands of small contributions to solve global problems. PWX would be delighted to work with more schools and the children of Bangalore.

Download a pdf version of the press release.
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