Published: 02nd November 2017
A green bent of mind: Pratiksha Srivastava's wastewater management solution won her an award from the German Government
The work of a CSIR-IMMT student, Pratiksha Srivastava, has gained global recognition but her journey has just begun
The day we spoke to Pratiksha Srivastava, a student of M Tech Biotechnology at CSIR - Institute of Minerals and Materials Technology, Bhubaneswar, was the day she received the Green Talents Award from the German government. "It was a really proud moment for me," says the 25-year-old, who was being awarded for developing a technology that would enhance constructed wetlands technology, which in turn helps in providing wastewater treatment.
Modelled right: A constructed wetland
Right from the start of our conversation, she rued the fact that there is just 1 per cent of easily accessible fresh water left in the world and even that we mismanage. "The wastewater sometimes mixes with groundwater, which could make it undrinkable for us in the coming days," she states. Thus, she took it up as her dissertation and then decided to make it her career by solving the issue.
If you want to treat your water and make sustainable use of it, apply our wetland technology
Wetlands are treatment systems which use natural processes to improve water quality. But this process is slow and a large land-use footprint is needed. Srivastava, by introducing a novel constructed wetlands integrated microbial fuel cell, has made the process faster and more efficient. "This runs on solar energy, hence doesn't require electricity," she adds. Not only is the water treated ten times better, but the process is twice as fast. "This is due to the central role played by the microbes and plants," she explains, adding that she has been working on this for over a year. There is also scope of electricity generation in the process.
Three together: The Green Talents Award was conferred upon two other Indians - Rama Kant Dubey from BHU, Varanasi and Jayati Trivedi from CSIR, Indian Institute of Petroleum, Dehradun
But her work profile doesn't end here. She has even designed a unique zero discharge toilet following the same principles. "It segregates the solid and liquid waste. While the solid waste is converted into biogas, the liquid waste can be reused as flush water," explains Srivastava, who has also been the recipient of the prestigious NFP Fellowship from the Government of Netherlands. The challenges she faced, of course, were multiple, but the one she continues to face is convincing the community of this technology.
Full view: Another view of the constructed wetland
But as we can see, Pratiksha's journey has just begun as she will be pursuing her PhD from the University of Tasmania in Australia. She has been away from Bihar, which she calls home, for over a year and a half and she misses her family a lot. "But we are the ones who can develop something sustainable for the world and people are relying on us," she says, understanding her responsibility. Her father, a small doctor in the village, and her mother are proud of her, she says. Being a girl and also someone from a small village, the journey has been tough for her. She has had to fight several odds. But she struggled and then struggled some more to get to where she is now and is willing to push harder to go much further in the future.