Sayali Patil, assistant professor at the environmental science department of Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU), said, “The project began in early 2016 when we collected samples of water from 15 locations.The bacteria in the rivers have become terribly resistant to even high doses of antibiotics. They do not die, but continue to spawn and flourish.“
The physical, pathogenic and chemical parameters have revealed that the level of dissolved oxygen is low. It has negatively affected the marine life and the present concentration of e coli and staphylococcus can cause illnesses. Also, heavy metals, phosphates and fluorides in the water can be attributed to effluents discharged from households and industries.
To tackle these issues, Patil and Vinay Kumar, assistant professor, at the biotechnology department of Mod ern College will now use bio-remediation and nano-remediation to improve the quality of the river.
“Microbial cultures and local species such as canna and typha can be used for reduction of pathogens and contamination. We have synthesised nano particles from drumstick and green tea leaves. When the microorganisms come in contact with the former, the toxicity reduces as the bacteria is immobilised,“ Patil added.
The preliminary tests and counter measures were funded by the Australian Indian Collaboration that poured in 40,000 AUD. The team is expected to receive Rs 1 crore for the next three years. From this next round of funding, three more monitoring stations, one each at Garware College junction, Boat Club and Vishrantwadi will be set up after the debris is removed.
“The contamination at these sites is the highest. Continuous monitoring will be required to understand how efficiently the remediation techniques work, as the challenge will be to anticipate all the factors such as seasonal and temperature variations, besides the change of flow of the river,“ she added.
Shailendra Patel, who is part of Jaldevata Seva Abhiyan, a group that works towards conserving the river said that the use of new technology through natural measures is a step that needs to be acknowledged and appreciated.
Patel said, “The use of natural compounds will not harm the marine life, but it will take time to understand the benefits of the suggested measures. It is important that people start using natural soaps and detergents to reduce the chemicals that are discharged into the rivers.“
Professors Andrew Ball and Ravi Shukla from RMIT University, Australia, are involved in the project as well, besides N R Karmalkar, head of environmental science SPPU and Sanjay Kharat, principal of Modern College.
Source : TOI