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Scientists in Pune hope to revive rivers with nanotechnology and ‘floating islands’

A recent study titled river water pollution In India and its remediation by a city-based scientists group has found that pathogenic bacteria has started showing multi-drug resistance (MDR) which can inturn cause diseases in the residents who use the water

pune Updated: Aug 29, 2018 14:56 IST
Shrinivas Deshpande
Shrinivas Deshpande
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,scientists,floating islands
The health of Pune residents are at stake as pollution is on the rise in the Mutha river. (HT PHOTO )

The pollution in Mutha river is rising consistently. A recent study titled river water pollution In India and its remediation by a city-based scientists group has found that pathogenic bacteria has started showing multi-drug resistance (MDR) which can inturn cause diseases in the residents who use the water.

The group of researchers include Vinay Kumar, assistant professor, department of biotechnology at Modern College; SS Kharat, principal, Modern College; Sayali Patil, assistant professor, environmental science department, Savitribai Phule Pune University; and NR Karmalkar, vice-chancellor and PhD students from SPPU.

The financial support was provided by Australia-India Council. Andrew Ball, and Ravi Shukla, scientists from centre for environmental sustainability and remediation, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia also participated in the research.

The research has found that there are heavy microbial deposits at several locations where the river flows through the city.

A total of 25 bacterial species have been isolated from the samples. These include Escherichia spp, Bacillus spp, Pseudomonas spp, Aeromonas spp, Klebsiella pneumonia and Staphylococcus aureus and these can cause serious health hazard to the public. Many of the species were showing MDR characters with few of them showing extensively drug resistance (XDR).

Researchers said that communicable diseases might be transmitted through these species of bacteria and it would also be difficult to treat the diseases as the species have developed resistance to most of the medicines available in the market.

Vinay Kumar said, “ We collected bacteria from a 65-km-stretch of Mula and Mutha rivers and tried to combat them with commonly used antibiotics. The results are shocking as many of the species are showing MDR characters with few of them showing extensively drug resistance (XDR) and so, health of thousands of residents are at stake.

While elaborating solution on the results, Sayali Patil said “While working on the solution, we have developed a nano-material, which can be used to absorb the pathogens. As a pilot project, we will develop floating islands in river in which plant species like Tyhpa,Canna with local grass will be planted. And nano material will be used at the base of this island”

The project was started in 2016 and the team is now involved in developing a two-tier phyto-nano approach to combat this serious drug resistance threat, and is developing advanced nano materials coated with potential phytomolecules with drug resistance reversal capabilities.

However, Pune municipal corporation said that no researchers have approached them for the study. Mangesh Dighe, head of PMC environment department, said, “We have treated around 70 per cent of sewage water. Hence we are working on JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) project in which we have planned to upgrade our existing treatment plant. Results of such research would definitely help us.”

First Published: Aug 29, 2018 14:55 IST