M. Manikandan, a Junior Faculty of Plumbing at TVS Community College has become a hero of sorts among his college peers and others. Mr. Manikandan aged 43 has invented a device called “Borewell robot”, which as the name suggests, helps to rescue children who fall into borewells.
In India abandoned borewells are a common sight. With the level of water deprecating every year, people have no choice but to dig deeper wells. However, more often than not, the wells that fail to yield any water are abandoned and simply covered with gunny sacks.
Manikandan’s device recently helped in the successful rescue of 4-year-old Harshan who was trapped in a borewell near Sankarankoil, Tamil Nadu. However, 18-month-old Sujith who had fallen into a borewell in Tiruvannamalai wasn’t as lucky. In his case, the robot wasn’t able to grip his tiny hands. One reason may have been the position he was trapped in, while another possibility is that the device isn’t functional when it extends beyond a certain depth.
It took years of work to bring borewell robots to its present shape. From a 4-foot-long, device weighing 20 kg, to a 9-foot-long robot that used an air piston and weighed 30 kg, the device has gone through several iterations to become what it is today.
The real-life tech innovation is a 4-foot-long gadget, which weighs just 5 kg. It runs on battery operated DC motor, and can technically work up to 1000 feet and lift up an object weighing around 50 kg. It has an infra-red mini camera along with a mini TV that helps in locating victims.
Currently the robot costs around Rs 60,000.
“The robot has an ‘arm’ at the end of the structure which is lowered into a borewell through a rope and pulley. I have fashioned different kinds of arms which can be fitted to pull out the child depending on what position he or she is trapped in,” explains M. Thirunavukkarasu, another member and also a faculty member at the TVS College.
“Even though I’ve stated many times that I’ve nurtured this idea and had to work for years to give it a shape, I pray each day that a need for the borewell robot should not arise and that children should stay safe,” Mr. Manikandan said, accepting the Vocational Excellence Award.
“If I get support from educational institutions and the government, I will be glad to develop a kit for every district in the State to rescue children who fall into deep borewells,” said Manikandan.