A group of five students from Shiv Nadar School Gurugram has created a "lightweight, economic and technologically advanced" sewer cleaner prototype called 'Sewage Squad', to "replace manual with a mechanised technique of sewer cleaning".
The model uses a water jet mechanism "to lacerate huge sewage particles, followed by metallic cutters to cut through the sludge and also a suction pump to suck draw out the sludge from the drains".
The five students from class XI who worked on the prototype are Ansh Gupta, Anavi Kothari, Bahaar Dhingra, Palak Yadav and Sarthak Acharya, The Indian Express reported.
"The product includes an in-built audio system that offers guidance on using various mechanisms while a camera and LED light provide the visual view of target areas to the user on a small LCD screen," Acharya said.
He claimed that a gas detection system in the product allows the user to assess the level of poisonous gases and enables an opportunity to ensure proper protection.
Compact And Simple Design
According to the students, the "compact and basic design" allows it to be used in "narrow alleyways where heavy, industrial-grade cleaning machines cannot reach".
The innovation is a result of the Capstone Project at Shiv Nadar School where students are "encouraged to ideate and devise economically viable and creative solutions to deal with real-world problems". It was presented virtually at the school's annual tech event, Colloquium, and was assessed by an external jury.
"Our journey began in March last year, just before the government announced lockdown. The team chose this problem because we wanted to attempt to eradicate this inhuman practice. Currently, we are working on improving our current prototype and making it so that it can be industrially implemented and then we will be testing in nearby sewers. We will also collaborate with some NGOs and take feedback from some manual scavengers," Dhingra, one of the students said.
The students claimed that the machines are designed in such a way that manual scavengers can use it without having any technical knowledge. They will also consist of an audio manual that will assist them in the process of cleaning.
The prototype currently costs around Rs 10,000-Rs 11,000. However, the students said, once they transform it into industrial grade, they expect the price to go up to nearly Rs 15,000-20,000.
Meanwhile, in August 2018, the Delhi government acknowledged the existence of manual scavengers in the city for the first time. It was based on a survey that covered two of Delhi's 11 districts, according to The Indian Express.
According to official records, over 2400 sanitation workers died before retirement during the period between 2013 and 2017, but the officials attribute it to causes other than work hazards.