Guwahati: In a step towards improving the lives of manual scavengers, Assam minister for Guwahati Development Department (GDD) Siddhartha Bhattacharya inaugurated ‘Bandicoot’, a manhole cleaning robot, in Dispur on Tuesday. The machine will be used by Gawahati Municipal Corporation (GMC).
The first such robot in Northeast region, Bandicoot will hopefully put an end to the ill practice of manual scavenging which causes a number of deaths each year. Also, the people involved in scavenging often contract lung and skin diseases due to exposure to harmful gases while cleaning man holes.
Earlier this year, in a written reply in Rajya Sabha, Union minister of state for social justice and empowerment Ramdas Athawale said that 110 manual scavengers lost their lives in 2019 while cleaners sewers and septic tanks.
The robot was developed by a start-up company called Genrobotics under the Make in India initiative, funded under CSR of Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL). Along with the robot cleaner, six Skid Steer Loaders (mini loaders) from JCB and six Backhoe Loaders from CASE and BOBCAT companies each were also procured by GMC.
GDD minister lauded Indian Oil in coming forward for such a noble cause. GMC commissioner expressed gratitude to IOCL and said, “The scavenging robot would go a long way in solving the problem of manual scavenging.”
The inaugural ceremony was also attended by G Ramesh, chief general manager & state head of IOCL in Northeast; GMC commissioner Devajyoti Hazarika; Additional CS, Govt of Assam, Maninder Singh among others.