Mumbai: 21st Century ‘robotech’ to clean British-era drains

Mumbai: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is set to spend almost Rs 31 crore to buy robotic jetting machines, which can clean even the narrowest of drains in South Mumbai. Four machines are expected to arrive in a month’s time. The contractors appointed for the job will receive two more machines in the next three months.

The civic body will purchase these machines which can be sent into nullahs or drains to remove silt from places human hands cannot reach. A senior official from the Storm Water Drains (SWD) department said, “There are manholes at every 30 metres in the old areas of Mumbai. These old drains have not been cleaned for decades since they are inaccessible. Apart from the accumulated silt, these drains have toxic gases in them, since they have not been cleaned.”

The official added a study of these drains has revealed that they have accumulated about 20-30 per cent silt, which hampers the speed at which rainwater can recede. These robotic machines can clean ten manholes at once. The BMC has undertaken the move to clean old drains in south Mumbai that have never been cleaned before, for want of right equipment.

According to civic officials, areas like Fort, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, Colaba, Byculla, Masjid Bunder, Worli, Prabhadevi, Dadar and Mahim have underground drains and nullahs that were built in the British era. As far as the new technology is concerned, these machines will enter the drain and can be operated by a person walking on the ground along the line of manholes, to clean them. “They will have cameras fitted on them, enabling the operator to ensure the machines reach every corner,” said the official.

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