Five students of Shiv Nadar School, Noida have created a technologically advanced sewer cleaner as an alternative solution to manual scavenging. The ‘Sewage Squad’ has been created by students of class 11 Ansh Gupta, Sarthak Acharya, Palak Yadav, Bahaar Dhingra, and Anavi Kothari.
According to the students, they have integrated a user-based interface that consists of a small LCD screen and a button layout at the top for users to operate. It extends into a pipe-like structure that can be inserted into the sewer. The LCD screen shows then the view of a camera and helps monitor the sludge and its cleaning.
It also has a gas detection mechanism to lets the user know about the presence of toxic gases like ammonia, carbon monoxide, methane, and hydrogen sulfide in the sewer, to ensure proper protection, say the students.
The button layout is used for the rotatory movement of cylindrically connected metallic blades, and the use of a suction pump to draw out the sewage. The product also includes an in-built audio system that offers guidance in Hindi for sanitation workers.
The idea of making the technology came to them while they were brainstorming to identify a social problem for their school’s annual Capstones project which is an integral part of our IT curriculum. They have been working on the project since March 2020. The students claim they have created a miniature prototype of the product and are working towards its industrial-grade version.
“While sewage cleaning is a huge issue in the country, the menace of manual scavenging has a socio-economic context. The practise has been banned in our country decades back but the fact that our government had to amend the Prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act last year, making mechanized sewer cleaning compulsory indicates that the problem still persists. Around 340 deaths have taken place in the last five years due to manual cleaning of sewers and septic tanks,” the students explain.
Talking about future plans of the product, the students say, “We are looking towards local implementation after finalizing an industrial-grade version, with help from the local municipality and the Jal Board. We want to connect with a few NGOs to see how we can take this product to sanitation workers and help improve their working conditions without posing a threat to their livelihood.”