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Govt likely to use robots to clean sewers, septic tanks

Govt likely to use robots to clean sewers, septic tanks
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NEW DELHI: In an attempt to stop manual scavenging from the city, the Delhi government is working towards robotic solutions for cleaning sewers and septic tanks. To achieve the goal, Social Welfare Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam

convened a meeting with experts from IIT, Delhi Technological University (DTU), New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), Delhi Jal Board (DJB) and Delhi Cantonment Board among others to discuss the possibilities and the need of robotic solution to sewer cleaning task, the government said on

Thursday. The idea was inspired from a Robot named Bandicoot, developed by Kerala-based start-up Genrobotics, that has been commissioned by municipal bodies in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

As per the report, nearly 80 manual scavengers have been trained in these states to operate the robots in a bid to offset the loss of livelihood. Bandicoot, a semi-automatic

robot, only requires a human operator to stand on the street near the manhole. "The machine with its many cameras, a robotic arm with 360 degree mobility, and a handy bucket to collect the waste does the work. The operator is only needed for navigation when the manhole is of non-standard size or there are multiple sewer lines below," a statement said.

"The Delhi government has already taken up various efforts to stop the inhuman practice of manual scavenging and would soon introduce fully mechanised system to clean the sewage system and septic tanks. Still there is a need for robotic solutions for smaller lanes and by lanes where machines cannot go," the Minister said.

During the meeting, experts from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) said the robot is not constructed for the condition of Delhi. So they suggested that the DJB approach the company for demonstration and feasibility to use such machine in Delhi. The experts of IIT opinion that since robot is not constructed for the condition of Delhi so it is suggested that DJB may approach to the company for demonstration and feasibility to use such machine in Delhi may also be explored.

The experts of NSIT suggested that the feasibility of usage of censors in the manhole may also be examined. These censors are required to place in the sewer/septic tank so that the status of toxic gases in the manhole may be recorded prior to opening to the manhole. Professor

of IIT suggested that a control room set up in the premises of DJB and DJB may capture database of the relevant areas such as depth, history and diameter of sewer line and a helpline no. may also be made operational.

While some experts suggested usage of censors in the manhole to check the status of toxic gases, some others suggested a database control room for various sewer line related data and a Helpline number for the same. "The DJB has been asked to constitute a committee for implementation of various methods to use robot and other type of technology. The government will ensure funds to DJB for this purpose," the Minister added.

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