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Auhona Roy Chowdhury, Pune

In a bid to modernize its sanitation practices, Chandigarh has launched an innovative initiative utilizing robots for sewer cleaning. The city’s municipal corporation has introduced two Bandicoot sewer-cleaning robots, each costing ₹40 lakh. These robots, equipped with varying sizes and diameters, promise to expedite the sewer cleaning process, eliminating the need for manual labor and improving efficiency.

Chandigarh Mayor Anup Gupta inaugurated the new fleet of machinery, including de-silting grabbing machines, desilting suction machines, sewer inspection cameras, power rodding machines, and sewer root-cutting equipment. The total investment in this advanced technology amounts to ₹6 crore. The move aligns with the NAMASTE (National Action for Mechanised Sanitation Ecosystem) scheme, initiated by the central government in 2022 to enhance the safety of sanitation workers and eradicate hazardous practices.

The Bandicoot sewer cleaning robots, developed by Kerala-based start-up Genrobotics, boast an innovative design with spider-like legs that grip the sides of manholes, allowing them to extract waste without the need for human entry. This feature significantly reduces the risks associated with traditional manual cleaning. Genrobotics has already secured contracts to supply these robots to 18 other Indian states and is even exporting them to countries like Malaysia.

Chandigarh Municipal Commissioner Anindita Mitra emphasized the significance of the NAMASTE scheme in fostering progress within the city. She pointed out that incorporating this state-of-the-art machinery is a crucial milestone in Chandigarh’s journey to becoming a role model for sanitation and urban infrastructure. Since 2016, the city has shifted from manual cleaning to machine-based practices, and these new advancements are expected to further improve the process’s efficiency, particularly in narrower lanes.

Mayor Anup Gupta highlighted the transformational impact of the technologically advanced equipment, noting that it would streamline and expedite the cleaning process, ultimately enhancing the overall sanitation standards of the city. With these developments, the city aims to establish itself as a leading contender in the Swachh Survekshan-2023, a national cleanliness survey.