From Pune, a mechanised solution for a pan-India problem: How to clear roadside litter

Light machine 'Jatayu' can collect two tonnes of garbage per day

Pune resident Abhishek Shelar’s decision to find better solutions for the complex process of garbage collection came from his desire to do something which would have a tangible effect on society. An alumnus of Harvard and IIT Bombay, Shelar, 28, decided to find a way to get rid of roadside litter, which has become almost synonymous with every Indian city.

Municipal solid waste management is a challenging issue for every city administration, given the wide variety of aspects linked to it. At individual household and organisational levels, rag pickers’ cooperatives like Swacch do the collection and the garbage is sent for further processing. But there is no easy solution for clearing roadside garbage, which can range from plastic to vegetable peels.

“There is a health risk for those who clean it manually. And if left unpicked, this garbage will increase health risk for local residents as well as affect the aesthetics of the place,” said Shelar.

A machine to clear such garbage, Jatayu, removes the need for human intervention in the process. It uses patented technology over a basic vacuum platform. The light machine can be mounted on a small utility vehicle and on an average, it can collect two tonne of garbage per day.

While machines to clear roadside litter do exist in the western world, their efficiency in Indian conditions is lower. “Such machines in the USA or Europe address the problem of leaves on roads… but in India they are expected to collect every thing from plastics to paper to metal cans. Also, dust is a very Indian problem and it makes the work more difficult” said Shelar.

“Our intervention was aimed at solving this problem… which is seen pan-India and doesn’t have a solution other than manual picking. Jatayu the machine is a result of two years of research into this,” he said.

In the last three years, his company has sold 100 such machines across the country, with his start-up getting noticed by the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Urban Development. “We have the capacity to produce 100 machines per month and this machine can plug the loopholes in India’s fight against garbage,” he said.

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