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KMC set to introduce robots for cleaning manholes in city

Kolkata: Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) is gearing up to put an end to manual scavenging in the city. The Drainage department of the civic body will soon procure ten robots as part of a pilot project to clean up manholes in the city.

"There are still some instances where we have to use manual scavengers for cleaning of manholes. We take all sorts of precautionary measures but we still feel that it is inhuman and needs to be stopped. This has prompted us to think of using robots," said Tarak Singh, Member, Mayor-in-Council (Drainage). The department will procure ten robots, five each in two phases.

The bandicoot robotic manhole desilting machine that will be procured by KMC is being effectively used to clean manholes and sewers with precision at a number of civic bodies in Kerala.

The spider-shaped robot takes 15 minutes to clean

small sewers and around 45 minutes to unclog bigger

ones. It was developed by Genrobotics, a company founded by nine young engineers in Thiruvananthapuram three years ago.

The Drainage department will also introduce five desilting and jet-cum-suction machines and use them to clean manholes in narrow lanes.

The KMC presently uses desilting machines for cleaning up manholes but in very narrow lanes the machines cannot be used properly. There are certain kind of heavy things often found inside manholes that cannot be cleaned and as a result the sewerage lines remain clogged. In those cases, the manholes are still cleaned manually.

It may be mentioned that the Supreme Court in September had slammed the Central government for not doing enough to prevent deaths of manual scavengers due to unavailability of protective gear. The apex court had observed that sewers in India were like gas chambers, where manual scavengers were sent to die. "In no country are people sent to gas chambers to die," The SC had remarked.

As per reports, every month four to five persons are

losing their lives due to manual scavenging and at least

1,470 manual scavengers have died at work between 2010 and 2017.

(Image from The Asian Age)

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