Naisargik, Ayushman make state proud on national stage

BHUBANESWAR: At 16, when most children his age is into social media and mobile phones, Naisargik is busy finding about the harmful effects of hexavalent chromium and ways to prevent it from getting into the food chain. His persistence helped him bag the prestigious Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar (national child award) in the innovation category from President on Tuesday.

Lenka is a Class X student of DAV Public School, Unit-VIII, in Bhubaneswar. During his research, he used a bacteria (Anabaena Cyllindrica) to absorb chromium from soil and water.

Hexavalent chromium Cr(VI) is found in mining areas and makes soil and water toxic. Exposure to it can lead to adverse health conditions like asthma, respiratory and kidney damage as well as cancer.

Talking about his research, Lenka said “The bacteria can be used in crops and water body for filtration. The farmer can take the bacteria out of the field after the harvest is over. It can be grown for use of farmers.”

Lenka, son of a businessman from Nilambarpur in Jajpur district, said the idea struck him when he heard news of people in his area suffering from cancer and other diseases. “Areas like Sukinda have chromite mines. Areas close to these mines face problem of hexavalent chromium. I had heard about the ill effects of this in soil and water. It prompted me to do some research on the subject,” he added.

In his quest for a solution he got help from Sailabala Padhi, a former director of the Centre for Environmental Studies. Later, Kishore C S Panigrahi, a teacher in the school of biological sciences at the National Institute of Science Education and Research (NISER) started guiding him. “I have been carrying out research for the past one-and-a-half years,” said Lenka, who hopes to become a scientist and an entrepreneur.

While Lenka won the national award in innovation, Ayushman Tripathy a Class XII student from DAV Public School, Chandrasekharpur, won it in the field of scholastic. A native of Balangir, he has been a regular in both national and international science Olympiads, having won the gold for India at the International Junior Science Olympiad, 2016, in Bali. He has been a consistent All India No. 1 rank holder in science and maths Olympiads for nine times. He has so far won 70 medals in different Olympiads. In 2018, he represented India at the Global Youth Leaders Conference, held in the US.

The two have been invited to have lunch with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday. They will also take part in the Republic Day parade.

Courtesy: The Times of India