Life as a curious crusader

By Naaz Ghani| Express News Service | Published: 12th November 2020 05:34 AM
MS Vigneshwaran with his air purifier

CHENNAI: When it comes to making the world a better place to live in, age is, honestly, no barrier. Take, for instance, Greta Thunberg, Licypriya Kangujam and Ridhima Pandey, among the many young climate crusaders across the world, who are rigorously engaging their peers and adults in green conversations. Lending their compelling voices, these youth icons have been leading the way in sensitising the denizens of this planet to protect and preserve before it’s too late to leave our home called Earth. Their green fight has inspired many a youth to innovate and invent ways to contribute and conserve. One such environment crusader is 13-year-old Mogappair resident P Hariharan.

Convinced that we can reduce our burden on the environment by just starting at home, this class 8 student of DAV Boys Public School, along with his friends — The Mogappair Saviours, as they call themselves — routinely comes up with homegrown mechanisms and simple solutions to some of our basic civic problems.

During the lockdown, Hariharan tried to find answers. Taking his first step, he started four campaigns that called for citizen action to manage segregation at the individual level and for good Samaritans to feed stray animals and set up a YouTube channel called Tech Ninjas.  The 47 videos on the channel are thoroughly focussed on the upkeep of our surroundings.


But, Hariharan wasn’t always inclined towards this crusade. In July 2019, Reap Benefit, an NGO, conducted a session at their school and distributed a basic electrical toolkit with a motherboard and digital display screen to students. He seemed to be moved by what he had heard...about the planet dying. Using this opportunity and the toolkit, along with his friends, he made an aerator — a thumb-sized device that can be attached to the mouth of a tap to control the flow of water. “I noticed that when we turned on the taps at home, a lot of water would flow out; sometimes the spray of water would even flow onto the floor and get wasted,” says Hariharan. Without much ado, Hariharan sprung into action to build and install a water-level indicator that could alert his family of any water wastage in the house.

Happy with his initial effort, the enthusiastic teenager moved to his other worry — plastic wastage and its impact on the environment. He soon set up his first individual experiment to make fuel out of plastic waste. By first shredding, then incinerating the plastic waste, he was able to produce a combustible gas, which when cooled can be used as fuel. For some other similar projects, he got the help of his friends, Sanjai Anand and MS Vigneswaran. In April, Hariharan and Vignesh converted the former’s bicycle into an electric bike. He had come across a kit by Geekay that had all the materials and instructions. The duo followed the manual to fix a battery-run motor to the back of the bicycle and then connect it to the back wheel. Once that turned out to be a success, they entered it in a Green Hackathon organised by Youth For Sustainability (YFS) held between September and October this year. When the results were announced on October 15, their electric bike was declared the winner. “We are now planning to modify the bike and continue being a part of such events,” shares Hari.

Edible cutlery by Sanjai

While awaiting the results of the Green Hackathon, Hari had the urge to observe how petrol and thermocol reacted with each other. In August, under the guidance of his mentor at Reap Benefit, he tested it. “It formed a thick, strong adhesive that can be used as heavy-duty glue,” explains Harirahan, adding that he continues to conduct tests to assess the long-term impacts of such glue.

Having discovered his quest to solve green problems, Hariharan has been educating and influencing people to reduce their use of natural resources by hosting campaigns and awareness drives. On July 16, he conducted Bin The Waste drive to encourage waste segregation. “I spoke to around 60 families in my area about waste segregation. Many said that they would do it, so I waited.” For the next one month, every morning, Hari would check with the conservancy worker to find out how many homes had segregated waste. To his delight, at least 15 families had begun the process. Apart from this, Hariharan started Feed The Strays campaign in September to encourage people to feed stray animals and birds, as the lockdown had deprived them of their major source of food — leftovers from restaurants. Through his initiative, approximately 100 people around Chennai fed birds, squirrels, dogs and cats.The efforts of Hariharan and Mogappair Saviours is one for everyone to see. His work convinces us that like charity, change too begins at home.

Experiments continue
Under the guidance of his mentor, he tested how petrol and thermocol reacted with each other — the result seemed to be a strong adhesive.

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