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A Student Satellite To Get Real Time Data Of The Hirakud Dam In Odisha

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At a time when India’s multi-purpose Hirakud Dam was nearing completion, a small engineering college was born at its foothill. The objective of the institute was to produce engineers who could manage the mighty Hirakud Dam. It is now a University run by the state government today. It offers 11 UG courses, seven 2 years M.Tech. programmes, three 2-year M.Sc. programmes, three 1-year M.Phil. courses. It also provides MCA and PhD degrees in a sprawling campus of around 300 acres on the banks of a large water body.

The establishment of the Idea Innovation Cell to nourish the sprouting young minds coupled with the foundation of the E-learning centre to nurture them has proven to be a stepping stone towards enhanced engineering advancements.

VSSUT Student Satellite Programme is a revolutionised step undertaken under the Idea & Innovation Cell, designed to provide an educational experience to students of design, flight and data analysis in a space experiment. It is a collaborative effort between 40 students and faculties from different engineering disciplines at VSSUT Space Development Program, to build, launch, test and recover indigenously developed reusable satellites and rockets. This program intends to prepare students for an exciting and technical journey, even if it means embarking on a path fraught with challenges.

Till date, very little has been reported on the issues of the Hirakud Dam. Large scale water-logging, seepage and an unscientific water distribution system are only a few to name. Also, the flood control objective of the dam conflicts with the other objectives of irrigation and hydel power generation. Cracks developing in spillways and increasing deterioration of soil in the catchments are causing erosion of the subsoil, resulting in sedimentation and siltation.

According to a report in 1989, it was believed that less than 10% of the canal systems were lined. The inequitable supply of canal waters to agricultural lands due to poor distribution system is allegedly contributing to water loss because of an absence of control devices at the canal outlets resulting in disparity in water discharges. According to a 1953 report, 57% of the reservoir’s silt load was expected to escape downstream through the 64 deep-set sluices in the dead storage. But 43%, i.e., 2.5-hectare metre per 100 square kilometres of silt was believed to be trapped in the reservoir on a daily basis. This has led to loss of the live storage capacity at an annual rate of 0.4% from the beginning of impoundment in 1956. It also showed that increasing deterioration of soils in the catchments causes subsoil erosion which in turn affects agriculture. The growing conflict between Chhattisgarh-Odisha over Mahanadi, have had its adverse effects.

As an obligation of the technical university towards the Mahanadi river valley, and due to the unavailability of relevant data, the aim of this project is to provide a highly accurate data to the concerned authorities who can take necessary steps for the better upkeep of the dam as well as the nearby agricultural areas and the common people.

The survey will be carried out using a sounding rocket designed and indigenously developed in the R&D Lab of VSSUT, Burla. The satellite will be carrying a CanSat payload of around 350 gms, well equipped with ultra-modern technologies. The rocket upon launching will reach a height of over 13000 ft in the sky, thereby deploying the Can-satellite. Once the CanSat is released in the atmosphere, it will be monitoring the real time scenario of the world famous Hirakud dam. The objectives of our project include:

  • To monitor the agricultural lands
  • To observe Water Distribution & Irrigation Management
  • Depth Analysis
  • Flood-Water Drainage System
  • Rate of Siltation and Amount of Sedimentation
  • To determine the Area Capacity of Reservoir
  • Structural Stability and Seismic Analysis
  • Seepage Analysis
  • Realtime 3D Mesh Mapping

The dynamic scanning system would provide the base station with the real-time raw data of the entire study area.

We have made several visits to the dam, interacted with the authorities and discussed the matter. They have offered us their consent and various opportunities to work in collaboration. We were also invited by Indian Inventors Association (IIA) at the International Innovation Festival, Bangalore – 2016, where inventors and scientists from 20 countries participated. We have also been selected to showcase our project in the upcoming Maker Fest in Ahmedabad and the Maker Mela, Mumbai in January 2017.

We wish to lay the foundation of our space-faring journey with this small step and we ultimately plan to work in collaboration with ISRO to launch our very own satellite v2.0 into a geosynchronous orbit to study the eastern coastline of India. We’ve come a long way, from grouping wherever space was available, to having a research lab dedicated to us for use. Through it all, we have, and will continue to take everything in our stride. After all, it is the rough road that leads to the heights of success. Family, as well as the alumni support, has been instrumental to us in our journey as we could not have achieved anything without their endless belief in our capabilities and stimulating support.

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Images source: indiawaterportal.org/ Flickr
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
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