The project was the brainchild of architect-to-be MA Karthik, who wanted the college girls to overcome barriers and hurdles in society to become successful entrepreneurs.
As many as 48 students were divided into four groups to recreate an aqua ecosystem in the laboratory for their practical studies project. Over aquarium tanks were of various sizes were set up holding various types of water-based plants.
The college girls built their own glass tanks and sourced the plants as well as the and soil from various water bodies on alongside the ECR, Perungalathur, Kancheepuram and the Pallikaranai marsh.
Two tanks have at least 30 plant species S Gajalakshmi said that she had brought the plants along with the soil from the Perungalathur lake.
“Initially, we thought it was going to be another exhibition but it turned out to be a lively project. There was something new in it every day.” For instance, explains Karthik, when the girls came in to see the plants on the second day they found tiny snails swimming around. Yes, they had hatched out of the eggs stuck to the leaves of the moss and water plants. “This kindled a lot of interest in them and they wanted to introduce fish in it. Thus, the captive eco-system grew. Fish would eat the decomposed plants and their excreta rejuvenated the ecosystem in the small enclosure,” added Karthik.
“We built a salt water and a fresh water ecosystem. We introduced tiny crabs, shrimps and different varieties of fish,” said the students. Water temperatures were maintained; the PH value and acidity were monitored and the soil content was maintained. “The enthusiasm caught on so much that now we have plans of setting up such eco systems in offices, hospitals and hotels,” said Kavitha, another student. Visitors who came in to see the project interacted with the students who clarified their doubts eagerly. This has also helped the girls know about a wide variety of aqua-based plants and species and how water was important to sustain the system.
Guide Karthik fondly hopes that these young women would be torch-bearers to ensure that the sensitive environment is protected.
Karthik has been guiding students to undertake many eco-friendly projects within the campus. But unfortunately, in the last two years, the campus lost a number of trees to natural disasters like floods and cyclone. But he is confident that this year’s project would help students understand the environment in a better way.