This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Shruti Sonal. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

How These Class 10 Students Are Using Drones To Tackle One Of Delhi’s Biggest Problems

More from Shruti Sonal

By Shruti Sonal:

Sanchit, Pranav, and Triambikay at work

Approximately a month back, I read about a group of school-going youngsters – Sanchit, Pranav, and Triambikay – from Delhi who developed a drone that detects air pollution. In what could prove to be a boon for one of the world’s most polluted cities, their invention correctly reports the chemical composition of the air it is flown in.

Unlike the typical large air pollution monitoring stations or instruments/tools, this one is portable and compact. It is a fully autonomous device that comes equipped with a GPS, a barometer, accelerometer, a gyroscope and a pollution monitoring toolkit, and is designed to take off, hover around the city, check the pollution and land on its own. Pollution monitoring kit contains sensors like CO2, O2, and a dust sensor, measuring the presence of specific compounds in the air and providing readings in ppm (parts per million). One device can measure air pollution readings of several cities without having to deploy multiple drones! The data is then sent to a server, which displays live readings on pollution levels on a web page. Interestingly, the data can not only be viewed by the government or environmental experts but also by the public, making them active participants in the efforts to protect the environment.

I was extremely curious to understand what drives Class 10 students who are at an age where they are typically dealing with the trappings of puberty, to achieve so much. Well, according to Sanchit, it was their interest in technology, engineering and a common aspiration to build gadgets for a cause, which united them as friends and inventors.

By January 2015, Sanchit had developed a keen interest in drones and started researching on the technology involved. Pranav, intrigued by his research, suggested that they build a drone which could help bring greater accountability of pollutants present in the air. Not ones to sit helplessly as they read news reports about the deteriorating conditions in Delhi, they decided to use their interest in technology, to be the change.

The first step was to create a prototype, which came with its own set of struggles. Since the three lived so far apart, they organised weekly meetups at the MakerSpace, a community driven initiative where tools and devices are available for those looking to collaborate to design and build new gadgets. Here they discussed the features of the drone, designed its aerodynamics, planned the materials that needed to be used, and soon they had a blueprint. In the meantime, they also saved up money to buy the necessary materials for the drone.

By July 2015, in a span of five weeks, they were ready with their first prototype of the Air Pollution Monitoring Drone! With a hint of pride in his voice, Sanchit told me, “We made this drone for about just one-fourth the cost of commercial drones, used for a similar use! The total cost to make this was about INR 40,000.”

I wondered if it was difficult balancing the project alongside school. “Yes, it was quite tough. We used every free period to research the project! Our parents were not supportive at the start. But knowing the scope of this project and our huge interest in it, they eventually backed our efforts.” With teachers, it was a mixed bag. “Some were really impressed seeing our passion but others were not that much happy about it. They wanted us to focus on academics and textbooks, and not deviate.”

According to Sanchit, he is now brushing up on his software skills, putting together a team of highly skilled people and working on the backend architecture of his future organisation.

“I believe that we and the government can easily cooperate with each other on the large-scale use of drones, regulating its use in India and also removing the ban on its use. Our intention is to use drones to help people and raise awareness amongst the general public,” outlines Sanchit.

What a marvellous thought to sign off with! As the movement to clean Delhi’s toxic air gathers momentum, such innovations can play a significant role in bringing together the efforts of the government and the common man. Drones have already effectively been used in China to monitor air pollution. Hopefully, in India, too this brilliant innovation can be utilised to its full potential.

You must be to comment.

More from Shruti Sonal

Similar Posts

By Prerana Sharma

By Ecochirp Foundation

By Debapriya Mondal

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below