Professor Shriniwas Rao helped the students develop the 'Rakhi'
Professor Shriniwas Rao helped the students develop the 'Rakhi'

This Raksha Bandhan, the city's trees will get their saviour brothers. Six children studying innovative technology as a hobby at a centre in Thane are ready with the prototype of a unique gadget - called Rakhi - that, when tied around a tree, will help to protect it from being felled. If anyone so much as takes a swing at a tree with an axe, the device will immediately send an alert to the forest department along with the location of the tree.

The students who built the tree-protecting gadget
The students who built the tree-protecting gadget

Managing director of Children Tech Center in Thane Purushottam Pachpande said, "It is designed by schoolchildren who come to our center to learn about technology and innovation. We help them to turn their ideas into reality."

"This gadget will help to curb illegal felling of trees. It's just a prototype for now, but we have done all the necessary tests. Soon, we will present it to the forest department, which usually struggles with manpower shortage," he added.

The students created 'Rakhi' with help from professor Shriniwas Rao
The students created 'Rakhi' with help from professor Shriniwas Rao

Chip with a number
Pachpande explained that the device carried a chip with a number on it, which, when put around a tree, would help in tracing its location, after sending a text message alerting of danger, if someone started to hack it.

The six - Std V student Om Chachad, Std VI student Shoumil Phanse, Std IX students V Vyas, Shubham Kharampure and Adityanath Balasubramanium and Std X student Rishikesh Patil - said they decided to create this in the face of rapid urbanisation and owing to increasing reports of nature taking a hit for Metro and other infrastructure projects.

What's the cost?
Pachpande claims that the device cost Rs 3,000 to make, since it was being made for the first time. "But in the future, if it is prepared in bulk, it will hardly cost around Rs 500. The kids took almost two weeks to prepare the device. We will present the device to government bodies and accordingly, place an order for new devices."

"Villagers cut trees in forest areas for their daily use. With the regularity of such cases being high, forest officials aren't so active and find it difficult to stop the numerous instances. This will help them to pinpoint exactly where it's happening, and hopefully, stop it," said Pachpande.

The device, which the six created with help from Pachpande and professor Shriniwas Rao, has a programing board, lithium battery, temperature and smoke censors, mini GSM modem and other electronic components.

Rs 3,000
Current cost of making the device