After seeing the Powai Lake near his home deteriorate into a dumping ground for garbage and sewage, Ayaan launched his initiative which aims to create awareness within the community and protect the plants and wildlife. He conducted a detailed study of the area and the report was awarded the Gold medal at the Homi Bhabha Balvaidnyanik Competition.
Ayaan is now working with experts and NGOs on weekly lake clean ups, and working with the government on possible long-term solutions. He recently designed the ‘Autonomous Spatial Pollution Detection Robot’ – a self-driving robot that detects pollution in lakes with spatial accuracy, and is working with a team of professors from IIT Mumbai.
All images provided by Ayaan. Read his story below!
My name is Ayaan Shankta. I am 13 years old and I live in Mumbai, India. Three years ago, I had started my project “save the lake.” in an effort to change the mindset of people towards the environment and try to save the dying lakes.
My entire initiative had started when I noticed that the conditions of a lake near my house was slowly deteriorating, from a beautiful scenic lake to what seemed to be a dumpyard for residential waste. I started the project with a smaller initiative called, “Conservation and Rehabilitation of Powai Lake”.
The main mission of this project is to create a sustainable world, that is able to understand the value of lakes, not to us rather to the flora and fauna who thrive within the lake. In the future I want to be able to help protect and rehabilitate lakes globally, hence i have named it “save the lake.”
The biggest challenge I faced in this project is that given that the lake belongs to the government, making a change is a very lengthy and tedious process. But with patience and determination we hope that even the smallest step we take forward would only be a positive step.
As a 13 year old, I am currently involved in many activities ranging from robotics to debate to swimming to the “save the lake.” project and most importantly school. I think the pandemic has definitely helped me manage my time because before the lockdown it would take me almost two hours to travel to my school and I wouldn’t get the opportunity to handle so many things. Moreover, my parents have helped and encouraged me in my pursuits and supported me every step of the way.
Over three years of this project, I have held numerous awareness campaigns in my community and near the lake to help create awareness about the degradation of the lake and the causes behind the degradation. Cleanliness drives are conducted on a regular basis and the most rewarding thing would definitely be how open people have been to help make a change. They have supported me in this project and I have been able to talk to numerous organisations who are also helping by cleaning up the lake.
In the future I plan on making a documentary on the lake and set up my own registered NGO to further this mission. I want to make “save the lake.” project national and hopefully one day even international.
My main advice for other young aspiring environmentalists would be to try to find an issue in your community. It may be something so small and overlooked, but has some level of significance to you, and I can assure you that if you continue and persevere, then that project will have an impact like mine did.