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Finding tech hacks for manual scavengers

The manual scavengers will be put into different teams and will guide students and techies working on problems related to their area of work



By Ramzauva Chhakchhuak on 4 September 2018

Original article here: http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bengaluru/2018/sep/04/finding-tech-hacks-for-manual-scavengers-1867130.html


BENGALURU: Anjaneyappa, a manual scavenger from Devanahalli, took centrestage while addressing an audience of techies, students and professors at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) on Sunday. Having not done something like this before, he told the audience, “One of the worst problems I face during my work is the stone lid that covers manholes. In many cases, we have to break open the drain. Fragments of stone go into the drain, making the entire cleaning process difficult. I want some mechanical solution to this problem, and that's why I am here.”

Anjenayappa and 16 other manual scavengers from the city and other districts are participating in a hackathon called Reimagine Waste 3, which aims at coming up with solutions related to waste and water in the city. One of its aims is also to provide solutions to widespread problems faced by manual scavengers.

Another manual scavenger from Kolar, Narasimhaiah, has been working for the past 10 years. He says, “When I clean pits that are 10 feet in depth, it poses major risks. Rather than me doing it, I would like some kind of machine to do it for me. I could even operate it,” he said.

The manual scavengers will be put into different teams and will guide students and techies working on problems related to their area of work, says Gayitri Handanahal from Waste Impact, which is organising the hackathon. “They will guide their respective teams with their skills and knowledge of what's it like to work on the ground,” she adds.

The event started on September 1 and will conclude on September 9. Prize money of `2 lakh will be given towards developing the best idea from the hackathon. KB Oblesh, state convenor, Safai Karamchari Kavalu Samithi, who is also a participant, says that in the absence of proper government mechanisms to prevent manual scavenging, the only other way is to rely on technology. “The only way to liberate manual scavengers from this kind of work is by increasing mechanisation of their work and an availability of alternative jobs,” he says.

A 45-day challenge will be open to all registered participants to showcase progress on their idea for a chance of incubation. These teams will be offered advice and coaching on developing a business canvas, building a business pitch and business plan for their idea.

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