Mumbai: Did you know that it takes over 120 people, 7-8 hours of cleaning, 60,000 litres of water daily and tax payer’s money to keep the coaches of local trains in Mumbai stain-free? Known as the lifeline of Mumbai, nearly seven million people travel by the local and every day there are instances of people spitting out mouthful of gutkha or paan (betel leaf) while hanging from the doors of the overcrowded trains. Fed up of people’s irresponsible civic behaviour, students from the Ramnarain Ruia college in the city have come up with a solution to clean the stains that is not only cost-effective but also eco-friendly.
Eight girls – Aishwarya Rajurkar, Anjali Vaidya, Komal Parab, Nishtha Pange, Maithili Sawant, Mitali Patil, Sanika Ambre and Shrutika Sawant recently developed a gel that uses very less water to clean the stains. The students worked under the guidance of their faculty members Dr Anushree Lokur, Dr Mayuri Rege, Sachin Rajagopalan and Mugdha Kulkarni.
Majority of the Mumbaikars including students, workers, women, professionals, children, etc travel by the train and paan stains are an eyesore for each one of them. It is impossible to stop people from spitting, so we came up with the next best thing. We have tested the gel on several premises like trains, parks and public walls. The results have been positive, and we had to use very little water after applying the gel, says Shrutika, one of the innovators.
Mitali Patil, another member of the group said,
Painting walls to make the stains somewhat invisible is not an option. It does not take away the risk of air borne diseases. Especially in crowded cities like Mumbai.
It took months for the group of girls to conduct a research and understand how stains function. From visiting several paan vendors, holding discussions with professionals from the chemical industry to interacting with the railway cleaners, the students tried to integrate every stakeholder’s feedback for their product.
Talking to cleaners on site was an amazing experience! The information we got was immensely helpful and has made us realize that the gravity of this issue is much larger than we could've imagined!#iGEM #HumanPractices #PaanSePareshaan @iGEM @Dev_Fadnavis @narendramodi pic.twitter.com/QiabExr7xU
— iGEM Ruia-Mumbai (@iGEMRuiaMumbai) October 5, 2018
Catechu and slaked lime are used in the paan that gives it a red-brown colour. The team had to come up with a solution that would eliminate the colour. The gel consists of a mixture of microbes and enzymes. The gel when applied over the stains, makes it colourless and dissolves them which can then be scrubbed off easily.
Students Win Accolades For The Eco-Friendly Stain Removing Gel
After receiving a grant of Rs 10 lakh from the biotechnology department, the final year BSc students developed their product and travelled to the United States in October this year to participate at International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) 2018 competition in Boston. It was the only undergraduate college to have won a gold medal for ‘Best Integrated Human Practices’ among the 300 entries. They were also nominated for the ‘Best Project under Environment Track’ and ‘Best Presentation.
A gold medal and the award for Best Integrated Human Practices!!! ????????????All this in our very first attempt of iGEM. We have no words to describe our joy. Being an academic institution we have had many struggles and lessons in our journey till now. Thanks to all your support!! ❤ pic.twitter.com/5K7KESB1zL
— iGEM Ruia-Mumbai (@iGEMRuiaMumbai) October 29, 2018
After they returned to India, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis felicitated the students for their achievement.
“The project by these students focuses on easy and eco-friendly way of removing paan stains, which is not only a health hazard, but also destroys the beauty of monuments and public areas. This project takes its inspiration from PM @narendramodi ‘s @swachhbharat Mission,” the Chief Minister congratulated the team in a tweet.
The project by these students focuses on easy and eco-friendly way of removing paan stains, which is not only a health hazard, but also destroys the beauty of monuments and public areas.
This project takes its inspiration from PM @narendramodi ‘s @swachhbharat Mission!
— CMO Maharashtra (@CMOMaharashtra) November 12, 2018
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollution, clean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.