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Robotic scavenger launched to check hazards of manual scavenging

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, July 28 - Guwahati Development Department (GDD) Minister Siddhartha Bhattacharya today inaugurated a robotic scavenger. Provided by the Indian Oil Corporation Limited to the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC), the robotic scavenger is an initiative to overcome the hazards of manual scavenging in Guwahati.

�Bandicoot�, the manhole cleaning robot, is portable and can go down a manhole over 450 mm diameter. It has a 16-litre bucket capacity and 125 kg hoist capacity combined with electronic sensors fitted with cameras. The robot can go down to a depth of 10 metres. It is fitted with a 10-inch interactive touch screen for operation from the ground. The robot comes with a generator and an air compressor so that it is self-sufficient for outdoor work.

Manual scavenging is a serious concern due to the human rights issues associated with it. Manual scavenging means removal of human excrement from public streets and dry latrines, cleaning septic tanks, gutters and sewers, etc.

Manual scavenging is not just a hazardous, unsafe, unsanitary and undignified occupation, it had even been legally banned by the Parliament a few years ago. For a bare minimum income, in a practice that reinforces age-old caste beliefs, manual scavengers take on grave risks to life from toxic gases in sewer lines to infections by manually removing the excreta. A major reason behind this unhygienic practice is the lack of proper alternative technological solutions.

�Bandicoot� along with six skid steer mini loaders from JCB and six backhoe loaders from CASE and BOBCAT companies each, was inaugurated by the minister in the presence of G Ramesh, Chief General Manager and State Head of Indian Oil in the North East; Maninder Singh, Additional Chief Secretary and Devajyoti Hazarika, Commissioner, Guwahati Municipal Corporation at a function held in front of the Janata Bhawan here.

Bhattacharyya lauded Indian Oil for coming forward for such a noble cause. GMC Commissioner Hazarika also expressed his gratitude to Indian Oil and said that the scavenging robot would go a long way in solving the problem of manual scavenging.

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