Super suckers ineffective, CCMC engages workers to desilt drains

Manual labourers have been deployed across the city and they are seen wearing rubber gloves and latex boots and cleaning the stormwater drains by getting down into it.
Workers clearing drains manually at Balasundaram road in Coimbatore on Tuesday.
Workers clearing drains manually at Balasundaram road in Coimbatore on Tuesday.(Photo | S Senbagapandiyan, EPS)

COIMBATORE: The lack of proper machinery for desilting stormwater drains in the city has forced the Coimbatore City Municipal Corporation (CCMC) to deploy manual labourers to clear the clogged drains in the city ahead of monsoon.

As a part of precautionary measures and monsoon preparation work, the civic body has been taking numerous steps to ensure that the rainwater does not get stagnant on the city roads. Several waterways, and water bodies such as lakes, ponds, streams, stormwater channels, drains, and canals are being desilted.

In this situation, the civic body has deployed multiple earthmovers across the city to remove the silt in bulk from the water bodies. The CCMC has hired earthmovers on an hourly basis.

While the civic body has deployed earthmovers to desilt the stormwater channels and other water bodies, the CCMC has deployed manual labour to desilt the stormwater drains across the city due to lack of proper machinery.

While ‘super suckers’ - dedicated machinery used to desilt stormwater drains in the city, currently have been sidelined as they weren’t effective enough.

Manual labourers have been deployed across the city and they are seen wearing rubber gloves and latex boots and cleaning the stormwater drains by getting down into it. However, social activists and the public have raised concerns over the use of manual labour as the majority of the stormwater drains have been turned into sewage drains.

 S Vivin Saravan, a social activist said, “Cleaning stormwater drains ahead of the monsoon season is much appreciated. However, using humans to clean them is not right. The civic body must consider purchasing new machinery or using the same robotic equipment which is used in clearing the UGD drains in the city instead of using people.”

CCMC Commissioner M Sivaguru Prabakaran told TNIE, “There is no proper machinery available in the market now for desilting works. We are searching for the perfect equipment. We tried the USA and Canada for advanced machinery for these works. However, we couldn’t find any suitable ones.”

He added, “Neither the super suckers nor the robotic equipment used for UGD cleaning are effective in stormwater drain desilting works. They are just used to clear the clogged drains and they hardly remove any silt. We are now using manual labour by providing necessary safety gear and removing close to 30-40 tonnes of silt per day. However, we can’t remove even 1 tonne of silt using those machines. So everyone including the Chennai corporation has been using manual labour by ensuring safety measures.”

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