Ankur Majumdar flew to Japan with 29 other students on a youth exchange programme organised by the Japan Science and Technology Agency in association with the Centre’s Department of Science and Technology (DST).
For his science project, Ankur Majumdar used his father’s smartphone to search for photographs of trains. “My project was on treating human waste in trains, but I had never seen a train before,” said the 16-year-old student from Odisha’s Nabarangpur district.
Ankur’s project, ‘Utilisation of Human Excrement and Environment Safety in the Railways’, took him to first position at the district and state levels in INSPIRE, a DST competition to attract the best of science talent among students. He eventually stood second from Odisha at the national-level competition held in Delhi last October.
When Ankur won the award last year, he was a Class X student of the Government High School in Murtuma, a village in Umerkote block. Now, he is a first-year student of the Gurukrupa Junior College in Umerkote.
For his project, Ankur made a “demo model” of a train. “It was the clerk in our school who gave me this idea. He had just come back from a train journey and was talking about how disgusted he was with all that human waste on the tracks. When I told him I had been chosen for the INSPIRE awards, he said I should think of a solution to this problem. I discussed the idea with my science teacher and we came up with our model,” said Ankur.
And they got working right away. While Ankur’s father Deepak Majumdar, a truck driver and a small-time farmer, helped him with the cardboard model — complete with wagons and a red engine — it was his science teacher Shivram Panigrahi who sat with him for long hours as they discussed the project.
”We discussed in school, after school hours, at sir’s home… We finally came up with the concept of train toilets fitted with tanks underneath where human waste would get collected instead of falling on the tracks. At every station, a giant vacuum pump would transfer the waste to an open field nearby where alternate layers of waste would be topped with soil. The anaerobic bacteria in the soil would then decompose the waste. The Railways already has bio-toilets developed by DRDO but these are expensive and my teacher says IIT-Kanpur has said they are not good enough,” said Ankur.
Source : indianexpress.com