Tendulkar's straight drive for clean rivers

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Tendulkar's straight drive for clean rivers

Pooja Tendulkar uses bio-science to reuse water, restore ecological systems naturally

Tendulkar's straight drive for clean rivers

While the planet has endless life in its womb, we humans must make conscious choices of sustainability in our lives. Today is World Environment Day, and this year it has been themed upon restoring our ecosystems. The theme aims to prevent, halt and reverse this damage – to go from exploiting nature to healing it. It focuses on how a healthy ecosystem can enhance people's livelihoods, counteract climate change and stop the collapse of biodiversity.

Pooja Tendulkar, co-founder of Lemnion Green Solutions, is a biotechnologist and an environmentalist who has been using her knowledge along with Dr. Prasanna Jogedo, another microbiologist to treat waste water and reuse the same, establishing a sustainable culture that helps in restoration of ecology. They create eco-friendly solutions and treat the waste water naturally with plants and microbes. 

Their motto is to build and maintain sustainable living for co-existing spaces. Tendulkar said, "Sustainable living is the new trend, it's long lasting. Reuse of waste water is necessary. With saving water we have to learn how to reuse water."

Lemnion Green Solutions is a start-up that's contributing towards the green revolution by providing biological systems to treat and reuse waste water since 2017. 

Tendulkar shares that they provide eco-friendly solutions for waste water treatment to treat and up-cycle waste water. She talks about how they use biomass as an animal feed protein supplement and for bio-energy production to reduce dependence on energy and maintenance, thereby saving water and the water bodies from getting degraded. "We are able to restore ecological systems in the process," she added. 

When CitySpidey asked Tendulkar about the projects, she answered that till now they have worked for many public and private projects that included restoration of drains, ponds, river and lakes where they treated and reused the residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural wastewater with plants and microbes-based systems. 

Tendulkar highlighted how they worked out chemical-free environmental solutions for different projects for water treatment and it's up-cycling by using a minimum external source of energy and mechanical equipment. She also mentioned that the process induced pisciculture and supported ecological restoration by enhancing the nutrient balance and regaining biodiversity. 

When CitySpidey enquired about the execution process, Tendulkar talked about two major projects that the team worked upon. One of them was ecological restoration of the Sarasbaug pond in 2019. In this project, they worked with the garden's department of the Pune Municipal Corporation. Talking about the execution part, she said that it was done by a public private-participation model where the volunteers joined and worked for two hours every Saturday. It was a 5 weeks project funded by the public sector. 

Moving further, she talked about another 8 weeks project funded by the public sector done before the lockdown happened. In this project, they restored a drain at Vitthalwadi. Tendulkar highlighted that this project focused on rejuvenation of a stream of wastewater merging with Mutha river, through natural wetland development and water flow regulation they could improve water quality and increase the oxygen levels that resulted in bettering the lost ecosystem. "This project was supported by 'Jivit Nadi - A Living River Foundation' and was executed in collaboration with Pune Municipal Corporation," said Tendulkar. She also added that the Mutha river project again followed the public private participation model, and the volunteers contributed two hours every Sunday. 

CitySpidey asked Tendulkar about the pre-requisites and the time required for any such project, to which she answered that the pre-requisites totally depend on the type of project. Tendulkar primarily categorised them into public sector projects and private sector projects. Explaining which she said that the public sector projects included open drains, ponds, lakes and the rivers. Whereas the private sector projects included bungalows, houses and resorts. 

She mentioned the following factors that they survey before sketching out the plan. These factors include quality of the water, flow of the water, amount of solid waste in the water, oxygen content of the water and the area available for treatment. 

Tendulkar mentioned that in their survey they also ask the people about the issues they are facing, "One of the most common issues was breeding of mosquitoes," she said. 

During the conversation she explained how they organise and analyse the survey to generate possible environmental solutions. She says that the majority of the time goes in surveying and planning and that the execution part takes less time comparatively. 

Their plan includes how the waste water could be treated naturally, whether it needs plants, microbes or a combination of both to treat the water. They also plan how that treated water can be reused in the best way, sharing some of the ways she mentioned flushing, agriculture and gardening. 

Tendulkar gave a detailed explanation of how they create systems to culture duckweed and wetland systems to naturally treat the waste water. She said that all this is done with minimal energy consumption. She says that the constructed wetland system works on gravity and doesn't require electricity. In areas where there aren't enough slopes, they use slight electricity to pump the matter from one place to another. With this she also mentioned that their duckweed system requires a bit of energy for the aeration part.

Duckweed is known to filter out contaminants such as bacteria, nitrogen, phosphate from natural bodies of water, wetlands, and wastewater. As an outcome, water quality is improved and the ecosystem is restored naturally. 

CitySpidey asked the environmentalist, "What's the manpower required to execute and maintain the process?" She replied that the operation requires labourers, constructors, planners and designers depending on the factors mentioned before. After the system is built any skilled person or gardener can look after it. 

Tendulkar said that the environment needs to be taken care of, by common people like us. Only saving water is not going to help the future generations. It needs to be treated and reused. The future generations will need systems to create sustainable patterns of co-existence. 

Talking about the impact that they created using their knowledge in science, Tendulkar highlighted the Sarasbaug project where they created a cross vane structure to restrict growth of pistia. The rock structures they created helped in the restoration. The D structure helped the fish to breed and also filtered the water and improved its quality. Tendulkar said, "We are glad that we could make a natural stone structure where little turtles can bask in the sun."

She talked about how they transformed the nallah at Vittalwadi with a simple wetland system, by treating the wastewater flowing from the nallah before it reaches the Mutha river which eventually made the quality of river water better. 

The site had several puddles from leaked sewage chambers making waterlogged areas with mosquitoes. This led to garbage dumping, making the place stinky and unpleasant. Thus, the spot focus was on nallah water treatment and beautification.

Introduction of in-stream structures within the nallah flow has enhanced the dissolved oxygen levels. Recreational value was added to the spot by using existing rock structures as seating arrangements and some added plantations.

Mother nature is demanding such stories of change more frequently, not only in Pune but pan India must be taken into consideration. With this concern CitySpidey asked Tendulkar about what could be done to save the natural water bodies and to better the choked drainage systems in areas like Najafagarh, Delhi and other such water bodies. 

With a lot of hopes, Tendulkar shared, "Lemnion Green Solutions have plans to breed most of the water bodies in India. It's doable wherever there's waste water. We want to create an overall sustainable waste water management system!" 

She added that they are definitely up for such projects, and if there's any lead/volunteer they will happily work towards that. 

With this she also stressed upon the fact that currently they are also venturing out into rural development projects where they are taking water sanitisation, waste management, health and hygiene into consideration. 

Ecological restoration is the process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed. Let's heal and mend the environment before it's too late.