Hope floats for Mutha : Singapore
univ joins COEP students to set up floating island
The floating island technique, conceived by
civil engineering students of College of Engineering
Pune (COEP) last year, has now moved from the
prototype stage to that of implementation, on
our very own Mutha river!
In fact, work has begun at the stretch of the
river near Sangam Bridge. The technique has even
resulted in a knowledge exchange programme between
students of COEP and those of Nanyang Technical
University (NTU), Singapore.
COEP’s project has generated
so much interest that NTU has sanctioned Rs
6 lakh as funds for
the project as part of a Memorandum of Understanding
(MoU) between COEP and NTU.
As per the MoU, NTU students will come down
to Pune in May to study the environmental conditions
and help with the project.
Similarly, COEP students are scheduled to go
to Singapore to study river purification projects.
Last year, some COEP students had come up with
the floating island technique to clean the river.
They made a prototype of the floating island
and showcased it at the annual regatta.
a floating island?
Shrikant Ambulkar, third-year student and member
of the team, said, “We studied root zone
technology and the floating island technique
which use vegetation growth in a pre-determined
way to clean up pollutants in a river.”
The floating island is made up
of PVC pipes, coir and a jute bed to allow
as canna plants to grow. “The natural chemical
process decreases pollutants in the water.
According to our readings, the
turbidity decreases to great extent and suspended
reduce up to 80 per cent,” said Dhaval
Patil, another student. Each island unit will
measure 1m x 2m.
The students plan to develop 20 islands in a
month. “We will test water samples before
installing the floating islands and compare
these with results by the year-end,” students
They are planning to install 100 more islands
on the stretch of the river between Sangamwadi
Bridge and COEP Boat Club.
According to them, the ideal place to install
the islands is near the mouth of the nullah or
stream where the velocity of water flow is not
more than 2 metres/sec.
“Our Jaldindi team has shown that Mutha
is clean at its source but gets contaminated
as soon as it enters the city. Our task is to
stop contaminated water from mixing in the river,” Dhaval
Before constructing floating islands, litter
traps will be made. Litter traps are netted
pits that will be built beneath the water level
to trap solid waste entering the river through
nullahs and storm streams. The litter traps
will decrease the load on floating islands
to minimise turbidity.
Jaldindi to pitch in
Participants of the COEP boat club’s Jaldindi,
which culminates today, will provide samples
of the river water from its origin to its end
to this project.
Currently, nine civil engineering students are
involved in the project. Initially, NTU had
shown interest in sharing information with
Later, they sanctioned Rs 6 lakh
as a grant to fund the project. “NTU students are
coming to COEP in May. We will also go to Singapore
to learn about their wet land technique for cleaning
rivers,” Dhaval said.
Dr R P Thanedar, professor of
environmental engineering at COEP, is guiding
the students. “We
have signed an MoU with NTU regarding sharing
of information and for student exchange,” Dr
Thanedar said. He thinks the project will take
another year to be visibly effective.
The students said, “We will be using canna
plants, as they are available easily, along with
other species of plants which will act as filters
on the island.
The existing techniques such
as cesspools or septic tanks require high consumption
large investment and a huge area of land apart
from its mammoth maintenance costs.”