The group of young innovators from Genrobotics couldn’t have done anything better than bringing a smile on the faces of people who are involved manual scavenging works for decades. The shocking images of the people who earn their lively hood by risking their lives cleaning the sewage by immersing themselves in neck deep of liquid waste has prompted everyone with a question , when are we going to change the ordeal of this community who risks their life every time while clearing the clogs in the sewage pipes underground. The group of young innovators from Genrobotics, Technopark Trivandrum has come up with a semi-robotic device named “Bandicoot “, which has the potential to address the problems and rescue the workers from risking their lives.
The semi-automatic robot with its inbuilt arms can get into the bottom of sewage pipes and scoop up the liquid waste and get it dumped into the collecting vessel. The Safai Karmachari Andolan has been fighting to eradicating the manual scavenging in India for many years, In spite of their mission to wipe out the manual scavenging from the society, Our deep-rooted and century-old caste system always prevailed over the basic humanity to rehabilitate all the scavengers from this undignified profession. The team of youngsters had spent weeks in the different parts of the country studying, how the manual scavenging has been done, After spending some much time watching the ordeal of cleaning the waste from the sewage pipes prompted the innovators to find a solution to address the problem through the means of the technology. The team from Genrobotics after careful analysis of the situation designed a “Bandicoot” completely functional robotic model within a span of two months. The device is equipped with a user interface and can be controlled easily by training the workers. Social Innovation by this youngster devoting their time and effort to improve the lives of this vulnerable section of the population should be considered as an activity having the elements of compassion, empathy. Great step with innovation can save the lives of people who often die breathing toxic gases emanating from the sewage pipes.
Although in 1993, manual scavenging practice was banned, it is still very prevalent and continues to claim lives. According to Socioeconomic and caste census 2011, 182,505 households in rural India with at least one member doing manual scavenging , According Wilson Magsaysay award award winner , 2016 says as per the study carried out by his organization revealed that around 1.6lakh manual scavengers in India, But the government figures are much lower, also 99 % of them who are involved in this activity are Dalits. The apathy towards this class of people still continues unabated and the government gives less priority to rehabilitate them. The innovation by Genrobotics is a great step in the right direction to protect the interest of these peoples. The “Bandicoot” semi-automatic robot can replace the manual scavenging jobs and in future, it can save many lives which otherwise could have lost if allowed to continue without any respite.
A sample survey of manual scavengers(A Summary of documented cases submitted to the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment )