Societal Impact @ AmritaWNA
Live-in-LabsTM was Amrita University’s answer to the proposal put forward by our beloved Chancellor Amma to motivate and encourage the students and staff of our University to spend time in in villages in India in order to understand current challenges and, subsequently, develop sustainable solutions. Amrita WNA embraced this proposal wholeheartedly and ever since the inception of the LiLa our researchers and students are working as a single team in identifying the possible challenges to which we can offer a solution. Under this initiative we have conducted many programmes like Periodic visits to nearby village schools to conduct workshops in the areas of contemporary relevance such as campaign against the use of drugs and tobacco, promotion of organic farming, conservation of resources such as water electricity. The highlight of these visits lies in the fact that these weren’t mere oral presentations rather our students worked on each topics they choose extensively and had even brought up practical solutions wherever possible. Two mega scale projects were also undertaken under LiLa initiative completely under the responsibility of the researchers of our centre which were the drinking water supply project conceived and installed at two villages one in Rajasthan and the other in Orissa during September 2015. The name of village chosen in Rajasthan was Harirampura situated 60 KMs far away from the Sawai Madhopur city. This remote and isolated village was home to more than 80 farmer families. Our team spent 20 days in the village and surveyed the entire village , designed the entire pipeline network and then installed the same. The total pipeline installed runs above 3000 metres and includes all the houses plus the local primary school. The villagers who earlier depended on a single hand pump
We take pride in the fact that today we are globally recognised for the successful deployment of first ever wireless sensor network system for detecting rainfall induced landslides in one of the very remote and hard to access hill pocket in the Western Ghats - Anthoniar colony, Munnar (Kerala). It was long since the rainfall induced landslides turned to be the sorrow of the Ghats region by taking dozens of life and damage properties worth crores each year. Due to the frequent landslides during monsoon season people en masse migrate temporarily out of their settlements in the landslide prone area which affects their livelihood badly. Apart from the economic and financial impact the sociological and psychological trauma caused due to the landslide threat can’t be measured using any tangible scale. It was at such a point of time in the year 2009 the researchers from Amrita WNA under the leadership of the centre director Dr. Maneesha V Ramesh took the challenge to contain this ravage of the nature at the maximum possible level.
After the several months’ hard work in the tough terrain vulnerable to the landslide at any moment
the team could successfully develop and deploy a Real time landslide detection system with the feature of remote monitoring and warning dissemination. Even today this flagship project of the centre stand as the testimony of our centre’s commitment to find viable and robust solutions for the challenges and threats affecting those sections of society who were hitherto ignored.
The successful deployment of the project in Kerala was noted at the highest level of the government and even found mentioning in the Rajya Sabha on 21 May 2012 where our system was lauded by the then Minister of Science and Technology Dr. Ashwani Kumar. Recently Ministry of Earth Science has requested our centre to deploy the system in the landslide prone areas in the Himalayas.
Mahatma Gandhi has once said “The soul of India lies in its villages”- there are approximately 6,00,000 lakh villages in India. There was a point of time in the history once each one of these villages were self sufficient to meet their needs. With the rapid pace of urbanisation this balance was distorted and villages were marginalised and quite often the villages were out of bounds for the reach of fruits of development. It was in this context our centre has decided to contribute our maximum possible share in mainstreaming the marginalised villages. One of the fundamental problems we found during field survey was the lack of access to electricity. One of the several problems caused due to this which struck us most was that the students were not able to learn and consequently being dropped off from the schools and consequently perpetuating their poverty.
The first village we chose to ‘lighten up’ was Valaramkunnu tribal hamlet situated atop of a hillock which was accessible only by foot. Our centre’s entire work force was dedicated to this novel effort for almost two weeks in September 2014. As a result of which 50 houses of this hamlet dispersed across various folds of hills in the forest were provided 24x7 power using Solar PV units.
The second village chose under this project was Komalikkudi village in the Idukki district where our team successfully deployed a micro hydel project by which we could solve the double challenge one was providing power supply and second was by constructing a check dam for the project the farmers of the village were able to use water for irrigation.
The Center has successfully installed low cost Rural Water Distribution and Management Systems in several villages and is in the process of developing an Integrated Water Monitoring Sensor Network (WMSN) to assess water quality and water wastage from different sources such as, primary water distribution centers (water treatment plants, storage tanks), and secondary water distribution centers (public and village tanks, industrial and residential complexes).
AmritaWNA is currently designing, developing, and deploying a multi-site, multi-modal, multi-channel, interactive, immersive classroom experience via the Amrita National Knowledge Network (NKN) Global Classroom project. The aim is to create “a university without walls and borders”, which connects various institutions, researchers, experts, and students - around the world - and brings them under one roof.
AmritaWNA is actively involved in the area of healthcare research with the aim of effectively providing healthcare solutions in rural areas. The Center focuses on developing integrated, continuous monitoring, and medical alert technology using unobtrusive, wireless sensor devices in three distinct medical areas – Cardiovascular Disorders, Neurological Disorders, and Sleep Disorders.
Amrita Spandanam: A Wearable Wireless System for Real-Time Monitoring of Cardiac Patients