Ayaan Shankta


Protecting Powai Lake near Mumbai since he was 13 years old. 
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Growing up in the city of Mumbai near Powai Lake, Ayaan’s parents used to take him to the lake every Sunday. On his visits there, Ayaan noticed the lake was being polluted with untreated sewage, rubbish and plastic, causing algaeThings that live mainly in the water and make their food through photosynthesis. Sea weed is an example of algae. to increase. He learnt that the build-up of algae stopped sunlight from reaching the bottom of the lake, making it impossible for underwater plants or animals to survive. Seeing these effects inspired Ayaan to act.

Before coming up with a plan of action, Ayaan wanted to better understand why this had happened. He carried out a survey of the area around the lake, gathering the knowledge and opinions of local people. The survey revealed that people were not very aware of the negative effects they were causing. The lake was just an easy area to throw away their waste, especially since there was no organisation responsible for looking after the lake or any laws to protect it.

‘It is very important that young children are made aware and get involved in saving the environment because after all, this is our world.’
-Ayaan Shankta

Next Ayaan wanted to measure the water quality of the lake so he could see if it got better or worse because of his actions. Because getting to the lake was difficult during pandemic lockdowns, Ayaan thought outside the box and designed a self-driving robot that could detect pollution.

Ayaan used the findings from his survey, along with the data the robot collected, to create an action report on lake conditions. This report earned him a gold medal at the Homi Bhabha Balvaidnyanik competition, a science competition in Mumbai.

Ayaan’s research has led him to organise regular lake clean-ups on Sundays, bringing together members of his community. He also contacted scientists who were working to clean the lake and they are now working together to spread awareness among the local people. People are starting to recognise the results of throwing waste into the lake and they are joining forces to help clean it up and protect it.

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Ayaan says, ‘As a thirteen-year-old, I feel that it is very important that young children are made aware and get involved in saving the environment because after all, this is our world, and unfortunately we will all have to face the effects of the deteriorating environmental conditions.’

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