Updated: April 6, 2021 8:59:58 pm
Three years ago, Sharad Pradhan was waiting at the Jhansi railway station with some foreign delegates when the sight of fleas on human and food waste lying along the railway tracks motivated him to develop an automated scavenging vehicle.
While manual scavenging has been officially banned in India since 1993, there are still scores of people doing it in big cities and small towns. Without proper protective gear and safety equipment, many of them even die while on duty.
Leading a three-member group at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the National Institute of Technical Teachers’ Training and Research (NITTTR), Bhopal, Pradhan put together his knowledge and skills to develop a self-propelled railway track scavenging mini-truck.
“The truck has suction systems that can collect and store dry and wet waste separately. Once the waste is collected, there is a facility to cleanse the area using water jets and spray the surface with disinfectants and sanitiser liquids. The whole process of cleaning a 500-700 metre rail track can be done in 15 minutes,” said Pradhan, who along with two Junior Research Fellows (JRF), completed the project funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) in over two years.
The truck can be alternately deployed on roads in its non-scavenging mode, making it a dual purpose cleaning and waste transportation vehicle. With a capacity to collect up to 200 litres of wet waste and 500 kg of dry waste, the dual-engine truck is loaded with 500 litres of water and 200 litres of disinfectants. It can best meet the requirements of both municipal corporations and the railways, Pradhan said
Pradhan and the JRFs with the help of Indian Railways have conducted waste collection trials along roads and railways tracks, but final waste collection generated near railway platforms is yet to be performed and has been pending due to the pandemic. The pilot model of the truck has been built at a cost of Rs 31 lakh and a company in Gaziabad has shown interest in developing it, said Pradhan.
The diesel mini-truck is easily operable and needs a driver and an assistant. As it is equipped with a display unit and control system, its waste collection is fully automated and can be monitored easily, the researchers said.
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