How is Kerala going to end manual scavenging? Answer to age-old malpractice is robot

Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 12: Every time a manual scavenger dies inside a deep pit while cleaning filth without any safety gear, humanity dies a thousand deaths.

Although the likes of Magsaysay award winner Bezwada Wilson, campaigning for the eradication of manual scavenging and alternate employment opportunities for manual scavengers, are very few, on the ground the age-old malpractice is killing many innocent lives every year.

manual scavenging Cleaning of septic tanks and sewers without protective gear is prohibited in India. Picture credit: PTI

In this regard, Kerala has taken a noble step by trying to make best use of modern technology to end manual scavenging–banned across the country, but is still practiced everywhere.

The Kerala government is planning to use robots to clean up sewer holes in an attempt to end the age-old malpractice of manual scavenging in the southern state.

“Bandicoot”, the robot developed by the startup firm Genrobotics, will be used for cleaning sewer holes. On Thursday, the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) and Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for transfer of technology and products, including use of the robots for the purpose.

The MoU was signed between the Kerala Water Innovation Zone under the KWA and the KSUM at the Chief Minister’s office in Thiruvananthapuram, a statement said.

“Bandicoot” will start its work, so far mostly done manually, by cleaning sewer holes in the city during the upcoming famed Attukal Pongala festival in Thiruvananthapuram in March, it said.

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