Hyderabad: Hyderabad gets its first manhole cleaning machine, which will remove the need for any human intervention. In a first, GHMC West Zone installed this machine, identified as Bandicoot, to clean manholes.

The machine, which will be operational in Serilingampally zone, costs Rs 32 lakh, GHMC said in its statement. According to the operators, the device can be easily controlled by a single person. Bandicoot’s body is made up of carbon fibre reinforced polymer, which makes the machine lightweight and anti-corrosive stainless steel is used to protect it from corrosion. It is equipped with four advanced sewer cameras, which can work both day and night. These cameras help the machine to locate choked parts of drainage, thus enabling it to clean it.

How does Bandicoot work?

The machine runs connected to a generator, and a grabbing unit attached to the device is released to a certain depth by the operator. The grabbing unit then enters the manhole and pulls the sewage out. The sewage is later released into a tray by the machine for disposal.

“Bandicoot also has poisonous gas detectors. It will provide safety to the operator from gases like methane, hydrogen sulphide and carbon monoxide. It has a bucket which can hold up to 16 litres of sewage water,” said Hari Chandana, GHMC West Zonal Commissioner.

It is designed to work according to the standard manhole diameter of 450 mm to 600 mm and a depth of 3 to 8 metres, she added

The GHMC, which plans to avoid manual scavenging completely, has initiated the use of Bandicoot. GHMC assured that it would soon purchase more such machines to resolve the drainage choking and desilting of deep manholes using technology.

Manhole deaths

Manual scavenging has been an age-old practice in India. Due to a lack of safety, many manhole deaths happen annually in the country. The National Commission for Safai Karamchari data said that from 2017 to Sep 2018, 123 manhole deaths had taken place.

Aiswarya Sriram

Aiswarya Sriram is a budding multimedia journalist and is currently working for NewsMeter as a "Factcheck Freelancer". A graduate from Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM) Bangalore, Aiswarya has earlier worked with The Logical Indian and has interned with Republic TV. Aiswarya, a Tamilian who was born and brought up in Mumbai, loves to do rural reporting. She has visited Byadgi Taluk of Karnataka, to write about the issues faced by chilli factory workers there, earlier in 2019. A craft enthusiast, Aiswarya also does quilling, painting and glass work. On her off-days, she loves to read crime-thrillers and watch anime. She primarily reports on civic issues, GHMC, human-interesting features, and fact-checking video stories.

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