Kanhaiya was a septic tank cleaner from Chennai who used to manually clean septic tanks and sewage pipes. However, he died from inhaling poisonous gases present in these pipes.
Kanhaiya is one such name but over the years, manually scavenging or cleaning has managed to claim several lives, many of whom are not even documented.
According to estimates shared by the government, 330 people have lost their lives in the last three years because of manual scavenging. Fatalities were reported across states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, and among other states. Except for the Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers, there are hardly any government schemes or policies that take into account the welfare of the people working in this sector. It is because this practice is banned and considered illegal under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.
The latest episode of Shark Tank India season 2 saw a Chennai-based start-up bring this challenge to the forefront. Silonas was started by Bhavesh Narayani, Divanshu Kumar, Moinak Banerjee, and Linda Jasline in 2020.
Silonas is tackling this challenge using robots which will eliminate the need for workers to go into the sewage pipes or septic tanks and put their lives at stake. The start-up has built a complete end-to-end water sanitation management system which includes a mix of hardware devices and a software platform.
The founders faced several obstacles themselves in the initial years. Kumar shared that his skin and nails would get spoiled when they would go inside the sewers. This gave him a first-hand overview of how big the problem is.
Silonas has two main products - HomoSEP (a septic tank cleaning product) and Endobot (sewer and water pipeline inspection robot). The in-house manufactured built-in software enables the user to record data from the pipes and present it on a dashboard. This helps the user evaluate various things including various leakages and blockages present within the pipe. Both the products are priced between Rs 15-Rs 25 lakh.
At present, they have partnered with several industries and cities to sell HomoSEP and Endobot. But they want to expand their footprint for which they decided to come on Shark Tank.
Silona’s ask was Rs 90 lakh for 2 per cent equity at a valuation of Rs 45 crore. “We believe that any city’s foundation lies in its sewage and sanitation system,” Narayani said while making the pitch. He further added that their aim is to make technology-based water sanitation a normal practice in India while contributing to the development of smart cities.
Silonas got a thumbs up from sharks Anupam Mittal and Peyush Bansal came on board to invest Rs 90 lakh for three per cent equity at a valuation of Rs 30 crore.
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