Coming soon — a robot to clean septic tanks

  1. A group of in IIT-Madras is developing a robot to clean septic tanks. Such inventions are particularly significant amidst frequent deaths of manual scavengers in India. According to the Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA) at least 1,470 manual scavengers died at work between 2010 and 2017.
  2. Manual scavenging is the practice of manually cleaning, carrying, disposing of, or handling human excreta. The International Labour Organization (ILO) distinguishes three forms of manual scavenging: a) Removal of human excrement from public streets and dry latrines, b) Cleaning septic tanks, and c) Cleaning gutters and sewers.
  3. Manual scavenging in India is prohibited under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013. The law intends to eliminate insanitary latrines and prohibit employment as manual scavengers. It also prohibits hazardous manual cleaning of sewer and septic tanks.
  4. Kerala and Delhi has spearheaded in ending manual scavenging. Kerala in 2018, had launched Bandicoot- a robot equipped to clean sewers and manholes. Recently, in March 2019, Delhi government has introduced a fleet of 200 sewer cleaning machines.