Taking a step towards eradicating manual scavenging, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Coimbatore Municipal Corporation have introduced robots in the respective cities to clean manholes.
On Thursday, November 21, The Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited’s (BPCL) Mumbai Refinery presented BMC with two Bandicoot Robots to clean manholes. The robots, which were a part of BPCL’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme, were handed over to Assistant Municipal Commissioner of M-West ward (Chembur) Prithviraj Chavan.
Meanwhile, in Coimbatore, the Municipal Corporation introduced the robots in the city on November 22.
The robots called Bandicoot robots are developed by GenRobotics, a startup company, based in Trivandrum district of Kerala. With the help of these robots, manual scavengers will no longer have to go inside the manholes for cleaning.
“We’re introducing robots to eradicate manual scavenging that’s banned by the Supreme Court. Governments are taking steps but not many solutions are available. Whatever the process a human needed to do inside the manhole, now can be done by the robot,” Rashid, a robotics engineer was quoted as saying by ANI.
The robots can go up to 20 feet deep inside the drainage. Each robot has infra-red enabled night-vision cameras and can detect gases inside the manholes. These robots are already in use in seven cities, including Kerala.
As per the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, the government has prohibited manual scavenging in the country. However, despite the ban, 88 people lost their lives while cleaning septic tanks and sewers in the last three years.
According to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, since 1993, 620 manual scavengers have died in the country. Of this, 144 deaths occurred in Tamil Nadu, 131 in Gujarat, and 75 in Karnataka.