Hyderabad: State Govt. Plans to use Robots to Clean Sewage System

Manual scavenging is mainly done by Dalits and Scheduled Tribes and endures in India despite being outlawed in 2013.

Hyderabad
Minister K T Rama Rao inaugurated Faecal Sludge Treatment Plant. Source: Telanganatoday

Hyderabad is planning to use robots to clean its sewage system as per Minister KT Rama Rao’s (Municipal Administration and Urban Development Minister) statement on Saturday.

In an announcement last week he said that new technologies would be adopted in the state to ensure safe management of faecal sludge and septage. He added that the State government was ready to supply money for research and development for a safer sewage management system in the city.

“Hyderabad is already standing out to be an example for many States and cities in several sectors. Even in this issue, we will utilise latest technologies like Sewer Croc,” the Minister said after the inauguration of the Faecal Sludge Treatment Plant at Nallacheruvu, Uppal.

“A person will no longer have to clean sewage or sewerage lines. A robot will be pressed into service to do the job,” Rao stated. Rao also pointed out that the state government was willing to provide funds for experimentation with new technologies.

Telangana was one of the first states to procure jetting machines. Each vehicle has a driver and a helper. These machines have a 2,300 litre water tank and a high-pressure pump. “Earlier, mini jetting machines and mini sewer machines were procured. In the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation limits, 130 vehicles and outside the city limits, 89 vehicles were procured,” Rao stated.

End Manual Scavenging

The practice of manual scavenging and cleaning excrement from open drains is all too common to India. The practice has it roots in feudal and caste system and men and women born into ‘untouchable’ castes are pushed into this profession.

Manual scavenging is mainly done by Dalits and Scheduled Tribes and endures in India despite being outlawed in 2013.

On September 6, 2013, the Indian Parliament passed The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 (the 2013 Act), committing itself yet again to ending manual scavenging. Seven months later, on March 27, 2014, the Indian Supreme Court held that India’s constitution requires state intervention to end manual scavenging and “rehabilitate” all people engaged in the practice. This meant not only ending the practice but also ending the abuses faced by communities engaged in manual scavenging.

But the policies are not implemented or people who refuse to do this kind of work either face intense social pressure or violence at the hand of local villagers or govt. officials.

It is one of the most prominent forms of discrimination against Dalits, and it is central to the violation of their human rights.But the policies are not implemented or people who refuse to do this kind of work either face intense social pressure or violence at the hand of local villagers or govt. officials.

A major employer of manual scavengers, especially women manual scavengers is the Indian Railways. Deaths due to asphyxiation while cleaning manholes and related infections are all too common.

According to Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry statement there were 340 deaths while cleaning sewers and septic tanks in the past five years.Forty-four of the cases were registered simply as accidental deaths.

The move by Telangana government is a step in the right direction in ending the cruelties of manual scavenging. It is to be noted however, that there were many complaints about the vehicles’ inability to move through the narrow lanes of Hyderabad in order to clear the choked sewage pipes. This forced many workers to climb down manholes to clean them manually. It will be important to see how the Govt. improves existing technology in place as well, so as to prevent any instance where workers have to climb down into manholes.

More Faecal Sludge Treatment Plant’s will be set up across the state as well. “Another 68 such plants will be installed in other municipalities and municipal corporations,” stated Rao.

Read: Nowhere in the world people sent to gas chambers to die, says SC on manual scavenging

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