According to the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry, over 900 people have lost their lives in India while cleaning sewers or septic tanks since 1993, the year when the law prohibiting the employment of manual scavengers was enacted.
But now, a robot, the only one of its kind in India and developed in Kerala, is changing the way sewer manholes are cleaned so as to avoid the unnecessary deaths of sewage workers.
Like several municipal corporations across the country, the Corporation of the City of Panaji, too, has procured the robot named 'Bandicoot' for cleaning manholes across the capital city.
The robot, which reportedly costs Rs 39 lakh, will be handed over to the Public Works Department soon. It can clean five to six manholes per day and is powered by a generator.
A joystick commands the robot to do operations like grabbing the waste and pulling it up.
Bandicoot is the only proprietary machine in India, manufactured by Genrobotic Innovations Private Ltd, which developed the first robot around 2017. Ever since then, the company has upgraded the machine.