In a bid to eliminate the need for manual scavenging, the Centre on Sunday launched a challenge asking innovators, NGOs, research institutions, companies and cities to propose technology and business solutions to clean urban sewers and septic tanks without human entry.
The challenge will be part of the Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention to be held on October 18 this year, according to an official statement from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. The objectives are to identify technological and business process innovations, endorse viable business models suitable for cities of different sizes and geographies, and pilot test shortlisted technologies and solutions in select project cities and bridge the gap between innovators or manufacturers and beneficiaries such as urban local bodies and citizens.
Activists working with manual scavengers expressed some skepticism about the proposal. The machines to clean sewers and septic tanks are already available globally, but they need to be adapted to Indian conditions, and the government needs to show the political will to actually use the technology on the ground on a large scale, they said.
Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention:
It will be launched at the 150th-anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi. It will be a first-of-its-kind International Sanitation Convention.
Ministers from over 70 countries will be invited and taken on a ‘Gandhi Trail’ in Gujarat.
The government will use the occasion to “showcase its performance” and “success story” in the Swachh Bharat programme in the past four years, which was launched on October 2, 2014, and have a face-to-face dialogue with the world leaders to share their experiences on sanitation programmes.