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Innovation at rescue: Cleaning India's filthy rivers with tech

The sorry state of India's sacred life-giving rivers is saddened. Not just the local industries which flout environment rules but budget-starved city administration is also to be blamed for filthy rivers. It's not like the government is not serious about it. The government of India has a special ministry focused on River Ganga with a yearly budget of more than Rs 20,000 crores. If you ask a layman, she would still say that it is nearly impossible to clean India's river. India, a believer in technology has finally got what it needs the most. Looking at government's willingness to spend on river cleaning, young Indian startups have developed innovative boats that clean a pile of filth in just a few days. Delhi based Cleantec Infra pioneers in river cleaning and waste management.

They bagged the contract to clean aquatic weed from Bangalore's Bellandur Lake, Kochi's backwaters and Lake Pichola of Udaipur and Sabarmati river of Ahmedabad. India's polluted water bodies spread a bad reputation among tourists. Hence, city administrations are now willing to spend big on river cleaning programs under Swachh Bharat funding boost. Cleantech infra uses US-based Aquarius weed harvesters. Aquatic Plant Harvesters offer an environmentally sound method of controlling excessive aquatic plant growth and nuisance vegetation in waterways of all sizes. These heavy duty work boats are highly efficient in the management of submerged, emergent and free-floating aquatic vegetation. Like an underwater lawn mower, an aquatic weed harvester cuts the vegetation, collecting and storing the weeds on board.

Aquatic weed harvesters are fitted with a pick-up conveyor at the forward end of the machine, which can be lowered up to six feet deep to cut weeds. One horizontal and two vertical cutter bars sever the vegetation as the machine moves forward through the water, and, when the storage hold becomes full, the weed harvester returns to shore to unload. The paddle on both sides of the weed harvester desilts the pollutants and generates kinetic energy. The Aquarius weed harvester boats require a draft of up to 2 feets and can easily navigate through small channels. Once the large pile of filth is cleared, it is then equally necessary to spread the message of Swachh Bharat to each and every person. To remove a small quantity of trash, Omnipresent Robot Tech has developed an indigenous autonomous cleaning robot.

The Ro-Boat has been tested in Delhi's Yamuna River. Ro-Boat has sensors capable of detecting, collecting and eliminating all kind of trash including chemical effluents and floating waste from the surface of the water. The Ro-Boat can work autonomously with minimal human intervention and is equipped with fog lights and a pan-tilt-zoom camera, making it capable of 24×7 operations in all weather conditions.

It also has the solar panels battery and twin propeller engine that helps it to navigate while consuming less power. The device has a unique ability to completely submerge in the river to pull out the pollutants settled on the riverbed. Erring on the side of practicality, with 12 hours of operation per day, the gadget can clean up 600 kg of waste a day, or nearly 200 tonnes of waste a year. The Ro-Boat has been awarded by Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


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