Sunday 24 February 2019

Ecology Class with a Difference #13

Al Qamar students were privileged to participate in an initiative - the first of its kind in India - to put together and launch the Biomatrix floating islands on a river with the aim of purifying the polluted water body.  This was a part of the Ecology Class with the PFC.  Here are two accounts of the experience by our students. At the end is a nice video of a launch.

This class we went to the Madras Boat Club, a non governmental institution established on the Adyar river in the mid 1800s. At that time, the Adyar river was a clean river, with lots of beautiful scenery. That is why the club selected this as their location But after independence, years passed. Disaster began in the 21st century. Many big factories started releasing their water into the river. Commercial and residential encroachments also began. By now the river no longer housed the beauties as it did before. The fish died. The migratory birds stopped coming. Many of the boaters couldn't; boat anymore because of the stench. But now there are many initiatives, programmes and projects to conserve the river. Our trip was one of the programmes.

We were introduced to Mr. Kaelin and Ms. Lisa. who were heading a project to improve the Adyar river. They were from a company called BioMatrix, a Scotland based group who work on projects like this. So the solution this time to clean the river was the "floating islands". Floating islands are 2x1m pieces made with coconut fibre and plastic pipes held together by a plastic mesh, with four rows in between. The idea was to plant plants in the gaps and set them afloat in the river. When the roots grow, they will become home to micro organisms which would eat up the harmful bacteria in the river. Many birds and insects can also thrive on the surface. There are also floats hung under the island with a plastic mesh lining which would become home to the bacterial.

We were divided into groups to plan each island with plants they had provided. After finishing this we launched the islands into the river.

Syed Abdul Majid, Grade 6

Today we went to the Madras Boat Club. There we met people from Scotland who work with BioMatrix Solutions. They spoke about a floating island which is used to purify polluted later.   It is made of iron and PVC pipes and stuffed with coconut coir.

In the island, we planted some plants. The roots of these plants will float under water. The main purpose of the island is to form bacteria and other micro organisms which will stay in the roots of the plants. To live, they need food so they will eat up the nasty things in the water. Later there will be fishes which will come to eat. But in the polluted water, they can't breathe. So what they (Biomatrix) did is to put up several solar panels on the island which are going to provide oxygen for the fish. There will also be birds nesting and animals on the top of the island. So this will create a whole new ecosystem.

- S. Muhammed, 6th grade

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