Powai lake activist makes Water Hyancynths Bio Products
Meet Elsie Gabriel Founder Young Environmentalists Programme who has been researching on the water hycynths of the Powai lake for more than a decade. Fed up with the apathy of constantly requesting the civic authorities to clean the lake of these parasicital weeds at the beautiful Powai lake in Mumbai, India, Elsie has been experimenting with recycling Water Hyacinth in combination with using various biodegradable mediums and silt.Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia Crassipes) is one of the most prolific aquatic plants, ferociously parasitical which spreads at an alarming rate having spikes of large blue purple flowers.
Besides weaving them she has tried to create Bio- Bricks and plates out of its pulp. "The Powai lake has been neglected and crocodiles as well as fish in the lake suffer due to less oxygen below the surface. We conduct regular nature trails, academic projects, cleanups outside the lake but inside it's impossible due to crocodiles."
In a bid that the authorities clean the lake, Elsie has been experimenting over years and hopes that the government will take this up on a larger scale to help reuse the water hycynths when they clean.
The species of water hyacinth comprise of Eichhornia. With broad, thick, glossy, ovate leaves, water hyacinth may rise above the surface of the water as much as 1 meter in height. The leaves are 1020 cm across, and float above the water surface. They have long, spongy and bulbous stalks. The feathery, freely hanging roots are purple-black. An erect stalk supports a single spike of 8-15 conspicuously attractive flowers, mostly lavender to pink in colour with six petals.
"I usually first treat the leaves, dry the stems , shred and prepare the pulp. I use mediums of clay, Powai lake silt , coconut and sawdust and sometimes even shredded plastic bottles as options to see the various results of durability. Agriculture waste collection, and reusing them to make idols and bricks can help save people from burning them . I'm also working on water hyancynth fibre. Similarly heaps of Coconut leaves can be recycled, they are often discarded, left to breed mosquitos,or burnt. Carbon dioxide from these being burnt pollutes the air and is one of the single most drastic source of air pollution."
Elsie is a global diver working on ocean Habitat and waterbodies,a global speaker on climate change trained by former Vice President of USA Al Gore and ranks second on the list of top ten women Climate Warriors of Climate Reality Project USA. She is fiercely determined that the city authorities and hydraulic department will clean the lake on a regular basis and save it from shrinking. The rich biodiversity of the Powai lake is a vital wetland and home to small Blue Kingfishers, Dove, Sunbirds, Jacanas, Red-Vented, White-browned Bulbuls, Indian Pond Herons, Egrets, Peregrine Falcons,fish, snails, butterflies, honey bees and crocodiles.