A Bangalore-based chartered accountant says the seeming impossibility of cleaning the Ganga is a matter of mastering the underlying chemistry, and he has a solution to the problem. When dissolved in polluted water, his invention promotes the growth of a beneficial kind of algae, which releases oxygen into the water as it grows. More oxygen means more aerobic bacteria, which breaks down pollutants in the water.
With new prime minister Narendra Modi pledging to clean the Ganga—he represents Varanasi in the Lok Sabha—the enormity of the task has come into focus. The tourism ministry has already allocated Rs18 crore (about $3 million) to renovate the ghats of the pilgrim city.
Like the Ganga, Bangalore’s lakes have been host to untreated wastewater and sewage for many years now. And like the Ganga, the consequences include algal blooms, stenches, mosquito infestations and drinking water contamination. These foul waters have been the laboratories of T. Sampath Kumar, a chartered accountant by training, who is also the inventor, producer and sole supplier of a proprietary nutrient he calls Nualgi—Nu for new and algi for, well, algae.