Jaipur became the first city in Rajasthan to deploy Bandicoot robots to safely clean manholes. Manual scavenging has been prohibited in India. Still, one manual scavenger death is reported every five days. Manhole cleaning requires workers to enter manholes that are death traps for them due to harmful gases and other hazardous factors. To address this issue, Jaipur Nagar Nigam has introduced these robots to clean manholes. The hon’ble mayor of Greater Jaipur, Dr. Somya Gurjar, inaugurated the Bandicoot robot at Jaipur Nagar Nigam by handing over the key to Greater Jaipur Nagar Nigam Garage Chairman, Shri. Vinod Chaudhari, to eliminate human contact in the manhole cleaning process.
"Greater Nagar Nigam Jaipur has introduced the advanced robotic machine, Bandicoot, for cleaning manholes; the robot is outfitted with features such as a robotic arm, gas sensing, and a wider opening bucket system, which will clean civil manhole chambers more safely and efficiently. Cleaning manholes with other equipment such as sucking, jetting machines, and other mechanical machines caused problems. This robot will ensure complete mechanization with no human intervention into manholes and will resolve all technical issues raised by other equipment." stated Smt. Somya Gurjar.
"We implemented this robot to safeguard the sanitation workers' lives. This robot is being used for the first time in Rajasthan to ensure the safety and dignity of our sanitation workers at Greater Nagar Nigam Jaipur," she added.
In the last five years, 13 people have died in Rajasthan due to manual scavenging. According to the data presented in Rajya Sabha by the Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs, Kaushal Kishore, the Ashok Gehlot-led government in Rajasthan has prohibited manual scavenging of septic tanks or sewage chambers in the state.
In an order on July 6, 2021, the Rajasthani government directed concerned officials to ensure that septic tanks or sewage chambers are cleaned using machines. “All district collectors and city corporation officials have been ordered to ensure that no worker has to get inside the chamber for cleaning. This work should be ensured completely through machines. No incident of any death because of getting inside a chamber for cleaning of sewerage should happen," Ashok Gehlot, Rajasthan Chief Minister, mentioned during the release of that order.
In 2020, the Central government introduced SafaiMitra Suraksha Challenge for eliminating manual scavenging by using mechanized solutions. It aims to ensure that no life is ever lost while cleaning sewers or septic tanks of every municipal corporation across India.
The use of Bandicoot robots will reduce the risk of casualties while cleaning manholes manually. With this initiative, sanitation workers who work in such dangerous conditions will be protected. The Bandicoot robotic technology is developed by Genrobotics for ending manual scavenging. The project was implemented with a vision to help improve the safety and dignity of sanitation workers and bring positive changes to this community. Bandicoot technology is designed to mimic and replace the entire human requirement inside the manhole for efficient cleaning.
Other cleaning techniques do exist, such as sucking and grabbing machines; however, sucking machines are unable to remove solid waste, while grabbing machines can only clean less than 20% of the area inside a manhole. In this situation, the authorities are forced to deploy human labor. But Bandicoot—with its humanlike robotic arms, a wider opening bucket system, and its sewerage and waterproof cameras—can eliminate the requirements for human entry and outperform other mechanical methods.
The Bandicoot robot is the world's first manhole cleaning robot, developed by National Award-winning start-up Genrobotics as part of the Make in India and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan initiative. Bandicoot robots are currently used by ULBs and smart cities in 17 states of India. The robot comes with a human-comparable robotic arm, various sensors, and advanced safety features that enable municipal corporations to perform their cleaning and maintenance actions more efficiently.
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