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Engineer develops self-propelled track scavenging vehicle

Can end manual scavenging to remove human waste from railway tracks.

The multi-functional railway track scavenging vehicle has been developed by Dr Sharad Pradhan, associate professor, department of mechanical engineering, National Institute of Technical Teachers’ Training and Research (NITTTR), Bhopal. The project was supported by Advanced Manufacturing Technologies programme of the Department of Science & Technology (DST), government of India, aligned with the ‘Make in India’ initiative. A national patent has been published for the technology.

Although manual scavenging has been banned in India since 1993, men and women are still seen removing garbage and human waste from tracks with brooms and metal plates. After such garbage is manually removed, the tracks are ineffectually cleaned using high-pressure water jets to remove remaining wastes.

The newly developed self-propelled road-cum-rail vehicle equipped with dry and wet suction systems, air and water spraying nozzles and control system is multi-functional and easy to operate. A display unit is provided for real-time control of the cleaning under drastically changing environments. It requires only one person in addition to the driver to carry out automatic cleaning of railway tracks.

Once the dry and wet suction is completed, the water nozzles start spraying jets to clear off any human waste or semi-solid garbage present on the track bed. Another set of nozzles spray disinfectant on the track to get rid of flies, rats, and insects.

Water jets completely remove human waste and other wet garbage from the inter rail space. Both dry and wet garbage are collected in different tanks, and once they are full, they can be decanted at appropriate local municipal garbage collection points. A joystick-controlled telescoping suction pipe is fitted to clear the slurry from the trench parallel to the track. The telescoping suction pipe can easily be placed in the appropriate position in the trench to suck the sewage slurry.

As this is a rail-cum-road vehicle, it can also be used as a material or garbage transport vehicle from track to road by Indian railways. It can also be used as maintenance/inspection vehicle and disinfectant spraying vehicle by the railways. In non-scavenging mode, it can also be used as a transportation and inspection vehicle.

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