India has got its first floating laboratory that is currently patrolling Manipur’s Loktak Lake, which is the largest freshwater lake in Northeast India.
Here are 10 facts you need to know about India’s first floating laboratory:
1. Fearing a threat to Loktak’s eco-system, the Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Laboratory (IBSD), Imphal, set up the floating laboratory on the lake to monitor its water quality and improve it.
2. Manipur’s Forest and Environment Minister, Thounaojam Shyamkumar Singh inaugurated the laboratory in Imphal on Feb 24.
3. The length of the boat is 15 metre and can accommodate 10 people.
4. A joint venture of Loktak Development Authority (LDA) and Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Laboratory (IBSD), the cost of setting up the floating laboratory was around Rs. 15 lakh.
5. It took the Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Laboratory (IBSD) around 4 months to set up the floating laboratory.
6. Voicing his concern on the shrinking lake, IBSD Director Professor Dinabandhu Sahu said the floating laboratory was the need of the hour to collect data scientifically in order to conserve the Loktak.
7. The ISBD said the manner in which the oxygen and the pH (acidity) level are going down in the Loktak Lake, leaving water in some parts acidic and alkaline in others, there might be no lake in the next 30-40 years, if immediate steps are not taken to check water pollution and restore it.
8. The floating laboratory is equipped with all modern equipment like water quality analyser, which automatically checks 14 parameters at a time, including temperature, acidity, salinity and electrical conductivity.
9. The 5-member, all-women team of young researchers patrol the lake in the floating laboratory. Besides, collecting pollution data, they also collect samples of microorganisms, which may carry potential for use in harmaceuticals, nutraceuticals and other industries.
10. Pertinently, as per the institute’s data, Loktak Lake has shrunk by 40 sq km in the recent past due to siltation. Deforestation and shifting cultivation in the catchment areas have sped up soil erosion. Annually, about 336,325-ton silt flows into the lake.
Sreya is based in Kolkata. She is a Senior Editor of Big Wire.