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    Bellone signs legislation to reduce nitrogen levels – Long Island Advance - October 23, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Randall Waszynski

    Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone signed historic legislation on Thursday, Oct. 15, to require the use of nitrogen-reducing wastewater technologies in unsewered areas of the county for all new construction. It also allows greater flexibility for the use of small sewer plants in downtown business districts.

    What this legislation means today is that we are continuing to make good on our commitment and our promise that we are going to protect and preserve water quality in Suffolk County because it means everything to us, Bellone said in front of Lake Ronkonkoma during a press conference last week.

    Others speaking at the press conference referenced Bellones listed No. 1 priority since he took office: a commitment to restoring water quality, drinking water quality, and coastal ecosystems. Bellone praised the advancements in technology and the work accomplished by the septic industry.

    We said that nitrogen was public enemy No. 1. This industry: this was all old technology that we were utilizing, and there were pioneers who stepped forward and businesses that stepped forward, Bellone said. Without the industry in place, you cannot snap your fingers or turn on a switch and all of a sudden have the infrastructure necessary to reverse decades of damage that had occurred. There had to be an infrastructure and an ecosystem built in order to make it work, and that was that industrys system.

    Dr. Chris Gobler, the chair of coastal ecology and conservation at School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences director for the New York State Center for Clean Water Technology, said that this legislation is a game changer for Suffolk County.

    The story of Suffolk County and water and the coastal environments is one that you could start as saying went from first to worst, said Gobler, referencing the clam and scallop fisheries in the 1980s being the largest on the East Coast. From that point forward, Suffolk County witnessed the collapse of both of those fisheries to the point where the landings dropped to less than 1 percent of what they were in the 1980s. We saw the nitrogen levels increase by up to 200 percent from that period to today due to on-site septic systems.

    Gobler said that the Bellone administration and its commitment to water quality was a turning point in the county.

    When it comes to advanced treatment of wastewater, which we knew caused all these collapses, Suffolk County went from worst to first, Gobler said. We are looking all across the country and around the globe at what people are doing when it comes to treating on-site wastewater. I can say with confidence that today there is no better program for installing advanced septic systems anywhere in the country than there is here in Suffolk County. They knew it was a monumental task. They took it slow. They did it right. The program has been enormously successful.

    Gobler also referenced the 380,000 unsewered homes in the county. And Kevin McDonald of the Nature Conservancy said that the action of replacing the old with new, individual/advanced wastewater treatment systems will remove roughly 20,000 pounds of nitrogen every year out of the environment in a compounding way. This means that the following year would see twice the removal due to the additional installations that year.

    This is a significant, monumental event in Suffolk Countys environmental history, McDonald said. This is a dramatic improvement over Roman technology.

    Kevin McAllister, president of Defend H20, said that the growing effects of wastewater treatment that is used today in Suffolk County as well as the influences due to climate change severely threaten water quality on Long Island. He also referenced water quality as a priority issue in the county and the region, and congratulated Bellone and the Suffolk County Legislature for their efforts, considering a unanimous yes vote on the bill.

    Today, we celebrate meaningful progress towards that goal with the adoption of progressive sanitary amendments, McAllister said. The Suffolk Legislature is commended for demonstrating its commitment, and in particular executive Steve Bellone for instituting an effective, forward-looking program that delivers.

    Mitch Pally, CEO of the Long Island Builders Institute, pointed out how the legislation opens the door for development.

    This is going to be a game changer for the development community in Suffolk County, he said. The ability to use the Appendix A systems in larger, mid-sized development projects, to help renovate our downtowns, to help renovate our other areas where development is appropriate is going to be a significant ability to build this type of housing.

    More here:
    Bellone signs legislation to reduce nitrogen levels - Long Island Advance

    Sewer repairs at Rosewood Mobile Home Park expected to start around Thanksgiving – The Robesonian - October 23, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    LUMBERTON More than three years after the City of Lumberton began the Community Development Block Grant process, dirt will be turned soon at Rosewood Mobile Home Park as construction on the housing complexs new sewer system begins.

    Work on the project is anticipated to begin around Thanksgiving, Lumberton Public Works Director Rob Armstrong said. Lumberton City Council approved a construction bid for the project during its regular meeting Oct. 7.

    Weve got a little bit of an administrative procedure to go through because its funded by CDBG money, Armstrong aid. Well have to get the whole bid package reviewed by CDBG folks.

    The city does not anticipate any issues with that process, in part because the lowest bid was not the one selected, but instead the lowest responsible bid was accepted, Armstrong said. That base bid with alternates, from Ralph Hodge Construction Co. in Wilson, was $1,358,480.80. After CDBG approval is given, the city will hold a preconstruction conference with the contractor to review project plans.

    Even as the lowest bid was rejected, the project is still within the citys budget and the city has some contingencies in case of unforeseen problems, Armstrong said.

    Once work begins at the mobile home park, located on East Elizabethtown Road, the project is anticipated to take a year or more to complete, he said.

    Out of 125 home sites at the park, 86 have failing septic tanks, Armstrong said. As plots have become vacant, they cannot be rented out because of their current condition. Additionally, a notice of violation has been given on some occupied lots, with time to correct the problem before the occupants would face potential eviction. The Robeson County Health Department is not renewing individual tanks because of the systemwide issues, so a new sewer system is the only fix.

    This will correct that issue and allow these plots to be occupied, Armstrong said. Theres some health hazards that have popped up over the years, such as sewer water loose on the ground.

    About 40 lots that are currently vacant can be added back to the market upon completion of the project, with the CDBG provision that they be occupied by low- to moderate-income residents, Armstrong said.

    City Council approved application for a $750,000 grant, through the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, on Sept. 11, 2017. The grant amount awarded was $1,997,500, and its receipt was approved by City Council May 14, 2018. Council approved a resolution on Sept. 5, 2018, to adopt a grant project ordinance and the authorization of a program manual.

    From that point, the grant process played out behind the scenes until the project was bid out earlier this month.

    The CDBG grants historically move very slow, Armstrong said. This project was more complex than the average sewer extension.

    A major high-pressure natural gas line passes beneath the park, Armstrong said. While there are no mobile homes sitting directly over it, engineers had to design a way for the sewer system to cross the line. Obtaining and processing information that confirmed which residents were considered low to moderate income was also a part of the process, in addition to making plans to reroute the sewer downstream because of the need for additional capacity.

    Some easements and right of ways also had to be obtained, City Manager Wayne Horne said.

    Rosewood Mobile Home Park paid $39,214 in project funding, which City Attorney Holt Moore said during the Oct. 7 City Council meeting had been received by the city. This covered the project costs related to the units that did not qualify for the grant, as they are either unoccupied or their occupants are not considered low- to moderate-income, according to Horne and Armstrong.

    This is not the only mobile home park in Lumberton where the city is looking to rebuild a sewer system, Horne said.

    Weve been trying to get sewers into these mobile home parks, Horne said. Basically these soil conditions and the fact these mobile homes were on lots, and the high density, it was saturating the soil.

    The Rosewood project will include installing about one mile of pipes and building a new lift station. The roadway will then need to be repaired and the old septic tanks removed.

    Chris Stiles can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [emailprotected]

    Original post:
    Sewer repairs at Rosewood Mobile Home Park expected to start around Thanksgiving - The Robesonian

    Plumbers reveal why people shouldn’t use this popular cleaning ‘hack’ – South Cotswolds Gazette - October 23, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Plumbers have warned people not to use washing up liquid to clean a toilet after a cleaning hack went viral.

    We've put togetherwhat you need to know about the cleaning hack - and why you shouldn't do it.

    What was the hack?

    Originally posted to Facebook group, Mums Who Clean, one woman explained how shed been using washing up liquid to keep her toilet clean.

    She wrote, [Put] Dishwashing liquid in the toilet tank compartment and every flush is fresh, clean smelling bubbles and the toilet always looks clean.

    The writer explained:I do a big squeeze about three days a week and the toilet is used all the time.

    She also said how she had been doing it for years with no problems.

    Why you shouldnt put dish soap in your toilet

    It appears, however, that not everyone is on board with this DIY toilet hack - with other users warning against the trick.

    It ruins your system, so dont do it, wrote one person, and another added, Please dont do this - the rubber/seals in your toilet cistern can break down when anything else but water is used in there.

    Peter Daly, CEO of Master Plumbers, said that you should be wary of using products that arent designed to go into a toilet system.

    Talking to News.com.au, Daly said:Master Plumbers advises that its safest to use cleaning products specifically designed for flush toilets. People living in outside built-up areas who are using septic tanks (rather than sewers) should ensure the product used is compatible with septic systems.

    Daly also added that people should think about the environment when selecting cleaning products.

    See the original post:
    Plumbers reveal why people shouldn't use this popular cleaning 'hack' - South Cotswolds Gazette

    Insurance, water issues on the table for legislative session – WMBB – mypanhandle.com - October 23, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (The News Service of Florida) Florida senators will be asked to eliminate the states no-fault auto insurance option and increase spending to repair the states natural springs, the incoming Senate president said Thursday.

    Senate President-designate Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, told business leaders that lawmakers meeting for the 2021 legislative session also will need to consider efforts to keep polluted Central Florida waters from flowing in Lake Okeechobee.

    Three or four years ago, we did a bill that brought in more southern storage to that system. And what I believe is probably a flaw in our thinking, there was more of a political thought, Simpson said during a brief video appearance at the end of the Florida Chamber Foundations three-day virtual Future of Florida Forum. We need to go and work on northern storage more aggressively, because northern storage will actually fix the problem. When were talking about fixing the root causes of our problems, a substantial amount of the Everglades problems come from the northern Everglades.

    Simpson and House Speaker-designate Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, spoke to business leaders as lawmakers prepare for the legislative session that begins in March and will likely be dominated by responding to the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

    In evaluating the damage caused by the pandemic, state economists have lowered the general revenue estimate by $3.42 billion for the current fiscal year and by nearly $2 billion for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

    General revenue, which includes such money as sales taxes and corporate income taxes, plays a vital role in funding schools, health care and prisons.

    Simpson and Sprowls separately addressed the need for lawmakers to reduce the state budget in respond to the revenue estimates.

    Both leaders expressed a need to maintain Floridas triple-A bond ratings from three major credit-rating agencies: Moodys Investor Services, Standard and Poors and Fitch Ratings.

    Without giving specific details, Sprowls suggested that lawmakers should consider practical solutions to coastal flooding and empower families to make educational choices that are best for their children.

    As the nation grapples with COVID-19, many states will have to find a way to fill the holes in their state budgets as a result of declining revenue. What will set Florida apart is that, instead of raising taxes or making your responsible cuts to vital services we will take this unprecedented opportunity to be thoughtful in our approach to minimize the size and scope of government and to get Floridians back to even a better normal, a better life, he said.

    Simpson told forum attendees hed also like lawmakers to consider the Florida Retirement Systems unfunded liability.

    The biggest eyesore that we have is the unfunded liability, the pension, approximately $25 billion today, Simpson said. I hope this year will be the year that we can address that shortfall within the budget.

    In addition to addressing water flowing into the Everglades from the north, Simpson said other ways to improve state water resources is to pump more money into programs to replace septic tanks with sewers and to exceed the $50 million required to be spent annually on natural springs.

    I would like to increase that sum if possible, so that we can continue to clean those up, he said.

    Simpson also spoke of reviving talks to replace the states no-fault auto insurance system, which requires motorists to carry $10,000 in personal-injury protection coverage to help pay medical bills after accidents, with a requirement for bodily-injury coverage.

    The issue has stalled the past few years as the House and Senate fought over whether to restrict bad faith litigation as part of the proposal.

    I think we could have some major reforms there and have some guardrails as it relates to bad faith, Simpson said.

    The Senate leader also suggested lawmakers consider other insurance-related legislation, such as limiting water-damage claims and home repairs.

    One of the other ideas that has been thrown out is that on a roof, after 10 years, to allow a depreciable value on that roof system, Simpson said. Rather than an insurer coming in with a 19-year-old or 20-year-old roof and having to pay the entire amount that roof lifespan has been completely used. So why not allow it after the first 10 years to be on a depreciable value. That should bring significant savings to homeowners and insurance policies.

    Earlier in the day, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis who noted he regularly discusses the states coronavirus response with Florida Chamber President and CEO Mark Wilson said one of the biggest fears among business owners trying to reopen amid the pandemic is the possibility of being sued by people whove contracted COVID-19.

    Businesses are telling me that these concerns might keep them from reopening. And we need to get people back to work, said Patronis, who intends to pursue Chamber-supported coronavirus liability-protection legislation in the upcoming session. We cannot allow our state recovery to be inhibited by the constant threat of lawsuits.

    View original post here:
    Insurance, water issues on the table for legislative session - WMBB - mypanhandle.com

    Thompson: I will use my decades of experience to improve Crystal River – Citrus County Chronicle - October 20, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    I want to thank the Citrus County Chronicle for investing the time to host a virtual forum for Crystal River City Council candidates and conducting an editorial board interview.

    With this opportunity to rebut your endorsement of the incumbent of 18 years, I want to share with your readers, first and foremost, that I love Crystal River and that I want to take my decades of planning and accounting experience and put it to use.

    Why do I love Crystal River?

    I love the beauty found in its natural wonders.

    I love the people of Crystal River, both those who have moved here in recent years, like we have, and those who have lived here all their lives. I love our local business owners who have struggled through decades of stagnation and blight associated with the shutdown of the nuclear plant.

    I love those who lobby so hard to clean up Kings Bay and our waters and keep them clean, those who fight to convert septic to sewer, and those who fought so hard to lobby state officials to extend parkways nearby. And now that the Suncoast Parkway is coming here, are we prepared to plan properly for its arrival? Are we ready to set up public workshops and seek public input?

    Are we ready to tackle the decades-old parking issues?

    Are we ready to focus on our local economy, our lack of retail opportunities, the increased traffic associated with increased tourism and the coming of the parkway, and how to support a revitalization of the Crystal River Mall?

    Are we ready to re-evaluate the trolley and how it can be used to showcase and connect many different parts of our city?

    Are we ready to take a hard look at our budget and ask questions like why do we need a $900,000 tower truck when we havent even budgeted a new building, additional building maintenance, additional personnel and additional training, when the county already has such assets and often responds to fires faster than we do?

    In conclusion, in the Chronicle endorsement of my opponent, they claimed I supported new programs and regulations. I can assure the readers this is nothing further from the truth.

    I do, however, support being accessible to the residents and returning every text, email and call I receive. I support asking the public for input. I support focusing on the budget and finding redundancies and cost-saving measures.

    Even though I was disappointed with the Chronicles endorsement, it is my hope to gain the endorsement of the voters of our city who should feel free to question me by either calling me at 352-895-3561 or terryforcrystalriver@gmail.com.

    Terry Thompson is a candidate for Crystal River City Council.

    Go here to see the original:
    Thompson: I will use my decades of experience to improve Crystal River - Citrus County Chronicle

    Plumbers reveal why people shouldn’t use this popular cleaning ‘hack’ – St Helens Star - October 20, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Plumbers have warned people not to use washing up liquid to clean a toilet after a cleaning hack went viral.

    We've put togetherwhat you need to know about the cleaning hack - and why you shouldn't do it.

    What was the hack?

    Originally posted to Facebook group, Mums Who Clean, one woman explained how shed been using washing up liquid to keep her toilet clean.

    She wrote, [Put] Dishwashing liquid in the toilet tank compartment and every flush is fresh, clean smelling bubbles and the toilet always looks clean.

    The writer explained:I do a big squeeze about three days a week and the toilet is used all the time.

    She also said how she had been doing it for years with no problems.

    Why you shouldnt put dish soap in your toilet

    It appears, however, that not everyone is on board with this DIY toilet hack - with other users warning against the trick.

    It ruins your system, so dont do it, wrote one person, and another added, Please dont do this - the rubber/seals in your toilet cistern can break down when anything else but water is used in there.

    Peter Daly, CEO of Master Plumbers, said that you should be wary of using products that arent designed to go into a toilet system.

    Talking to News.com.au, Daly said:Master Plumbers advises that its safest to use cleaning products specifically designed for flush toilets. People living in outside built-up areas who are using septic tanks (rather than sewers) should ensure the product used is compatible with septic systems.

    Daly also added that people should think about the environment when selecting cleaning products.

    Originally posted here:
    Plumbers reveal why people shouldn't use this popular cleaning 'hack' - St Helens Star

    Plumbers reveal why people shouldn’t use this popular cleaning ‘hack’ – Gazette - October 17, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Plumbers have warned people not to use washing up liquid to clean a toilet after a cleaning hack went viral.

    We've put togetherwhat you need to know about the cleaning hack - and why you shouldn't do it.

    What was the hack?

    Originally posted to Facebook group, Mums Who Clean, one woman explained how shed been using washing up liquid to keep her toilet clean.

    She wrote, [Put] Dishwashing liquid in the toilet tank compartment and every flush is fresh, clean smelling bubbles and the toilet always looks clean.

    The writer explained:I do a big squeeze about three days a week and the toilet is used all the time.

    She also said how she had been doing it for years with no problems.

    Why you shouldnt put dish soap in your toilet

    It appears, however, that not everyone is on board with this DIY toilet hack - with other users warning against the trick.

    It ruins your system, so dont do it, wrote one person, and another added, Please dont do this - the rubber/seals in your toilet cistern can break down when anything else but water is used in there.

    Peter Daly, CEO of Master Plumbers, said that you should be wary of using products that arent designed to go into a toilet system.

    Talking to News.com.au, Daly said:Master Plumbers advises that its safest to use cleaning products specifically designed for flush toilets. People living in outside built-up areas who are using septic tanks (rather than sewers) should ensure the product used is compatible with septic systems.

    Daly also added that people should think about the environment when selecting cleaning products.

    Read this article:
    Plumbers reveal why people shouldn't use this popular cleaning 'hack' - Gazette

    Sanitation worker dies of inhaling toxic fumes while cleaning sewer lines in Patiala – The Tribune - October 17, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Tribune News ServicePatiala, October 12

    A sanitation worker died from inhaling toxic fumes while cleaning sewer lines in Rajpura town, officials said on Monday.

    Officials identified the victim as Sanjeev Kumar, and said another worker, Vicky Kumar, has been admitted to a hospital.

    They were cleaning sewers at Talhi Wala Chowk.

    Rajupra Executive Officer Ravneet Singh said that the man was employed at the municipal council but that the civic body did not carry out sewer works (sic), which he said came under the sewerage board.

    He could have been working privately but it is yet unclear. Our inspectors have been directed to find out how the man went into the sewer line, he said.

    Manual scavenging continues to pose a massive challenge to the country despite a 2013 legislation called the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act (Manual Scavengers Act) banning it. The Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment said in its reply to a question in Parliament earlier this year that 282 people had died of asphyxiation in septic tanks and sewers across the country between 2016 and November 2019.

    Critics have pointed out that the deaths are grossly underreported and could be much higher.

    Go here to read the rest:
    Sanitation worker dies of inhaling toxic fumes while cleaning sewer lines in Patiala - The Tribune

    St. Croix River water quality improving, phosphorus pollution remains a threat – Minneapolis Star Tribune - October 17, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Phosphorus pollution from farming runoff and septic and sewer systems is steadily declining in the St. Croix River, but the nutrients continue to threaten what has long been one of the cleanest waterways in the Upper Midwest.

    Overall, the river is in relatively good condition, according to a study released this week by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).

    Bug and fish populations are thriving. Endangered freshwater mussels one of the strongest indicators of a healthy ecosystem that have been wiped out of more polluted rivers across the state are still surviving in the St. Croix. And, most importantly, nearly all of the historical wetlands and much of the forest protecting and enhancing the northern headwaters of the river are still intact.

    But long reaches of the river, which runs along the Minnesota and Wisconsin border, still have too much nutrient pollution from runoff and urban development to meet health and environmental standards. Mercury levels, most likely carried in from air pollution, remain high in fish. Over the past few years the MPCA has also found evidence that PFAS, harmful forever chemicals that dont naturally degrade, have made it into every part of the river.

    Phosphorus pollution, which causes toxic algae blooms that can kill off fish and make certain pools and lakes of the river unsafe to swim, gets worse as the river gets closer to the Twin Cities, according to the study.

    While nutrient concentrations are still too high, they are lower than they were before the Clean Water Act was passed in the 1970s, said Pam Anderson, who manages the MPCAs surface water monitoring program.

    Were seeing an improving trend, Anderson said. Wastewater treatment practices have improved, and theres been work to get better soil retention in agricultural areas to reduce runoff.

    The St. Croix was added to the list of the states impaired waters more than a decade ago, largely because of excess nutrients. Still, it remains one of the cleanest and most resilient major water bodies in the region. It is being used as a refuge and incubator for young river mussels to grow and mature before they are reintroduced in other parts of the state.

    Remarkably, more than 90% of the wetlands that were near the rivers headwaters before European settlement are still there, according to the MPCA.

    Those wetlands act like a sponge, soaking up all the excess water from the heavy rains that have caused the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers to swell and flood in recent years, Anderson said.

    The St. Croix is just not seeing those same big blowouts, she said.

    The river was also one of the first in the U.S. to be designated as a National Wild and Scenic River, which allows the National Park Service to keep a quarter-mile-wide natural buffer along much of the rivers edge.

    The rivers condition remains precarious, especially as more homes, businesses and farms are built within its watershed, said Deb Ryun, executive director of the St. Croix River Association. The association released a State of the River study at the same time the MPCA released its findings.

    Were cautiously optimistic that well be able to keep this resource the way it has been for the last 150 years, Ryun said. We have to be diligent. It can tip really quickly.

    Continued here:
    St. Croix River water quality improving, phosphorus pollution remains a threat - Minneapolis Star Tribune

    From problem to product: entrepreneur insights from winners of the Marico Innovation Foundation 2020 awards – YourStory - October 17, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Marico Innovation Foundation (MIF), the not-for-profit arm of FMCG giant Marico, recently announced the winners for its biannual Innovation for India awards. See our interviews with Marico Chairman Harsh Mariwala and MIF head Priya Kapadia, as well as coverage of the 2018 awards edition.

    Since 2006, more than 60 organisations have won MIF awards in the categories of startup, business, social, global gamechanger, and public services. This years innovation winners include Agatsa Software, Genrobotic Innovations, and Innaumation Medical Devices.

    Goonj and Olympic Gold Quest were declared winners in the Global Game Changers Category. Indian School of Development Management (ISDM) won a special mention, as well as one of its pedagogies for creating social impact leaders.

    Necessity is truly the mother of invention. When we faced a cardiac care emergency in our family, we realised there is no tool to recognise a heart problem quickly, said Neha Rastogi, Founder of Agatsa Software, in a chat with YourStory.

    Existing methods were too cumbersome, complex, and time taking. We needed a tool to not just help in detecting the problem on time but also help in monitoring and managing the diseases, she recalls.

    The Eureka moment came when she and her husband Rahul made a makeshift lab at home and started developing a simple Internet of Things (IoT)-based ECG device. It was portable and could connect to a basic smartphone.

    The device integrates with the cloud and is useful for personal usage, small clinics, and in rural areas. The companys products can measure heart fitness and conditions like stress.

    Neha Rastogi, Agatsa Software

    A throat cancer patient who had come to us had not spoken for a very long time as he could not afford the expensive imported prosthesis available in the market. That is when I had this moment of conviction that I should be working towards making a speaking device for these patients, recalls Dr Vishal Rao, inventor of the Aum Voice Prosthesis, Innaumation Medical Devices.

    Vishal and his co-founder Shashank Mahesh were of the firm belief that speech and communication are not a privilege but are everyones right. This has been the guide for me throughout this journey, he affirms.

    The Bengaluru-based medical device startups award-winning innovation helps with voice restoration for throat cancer patients via affordable, affable, and accessible devices. Surgical removal of the voice box due to cancer therefore need not mean complete loss of speech.

    Way back in 2016, we came across an article that led to the birth of our idea. The article was titled Braveheart Kozhikode auto driver dies after jumping into the sewer to rescue sewage workers, recalls Rashid K, Co-founder of Genrobotic Innovations, which makes robots to clean manholes.

    Unfortunately, the two sewage workers also died in the reported incident. This newspaper heading shook us all and we collectively decided that we will develop a technology that completely eliminates manual scavenging from our society, Rashid affirms.

    He cites shocking evidence that at least 110 workers were killed last year while cleaning sewers and septic tanks. Manual scavenging is strictly prohibited by the Supreme Court of India and is a punishable offense, Rashid adds.

    To tackle this harsh reality, he founded the Thiruvananthapuram-headquartered company, which creates a robot called Bandicoot to clean manholes using computer vision and advanced robotics.

    We realised there was a huge gap in learning, practicing, and understanding of development management in social purpose organisations (SPOs), explains Ravi Sreedharan, Founder, Indian School of Development Management (ISDM). Existing business and management practices have not been able to solve problems in the social development sector.

    Ravi cites data, which shows India has 3.3 million Non-Profit Institutions (NPIs) employing over 18.2 million people, supported by funders, enabling organisations, the government, and businesses.

    ISDM has come up with a new lens and approach to groom leaders for the development sector. The aha moment for seizing an opportunity came when we saw students from over 20 states across the country joining the first batch in 2017, Ravi recalls. Since then, more than 200 development managers have graduated.

    ISDM was founded in 2016, and its Knowledge and Research Centre is working to create a Body of Knowledge for Development Management. Ravi was earlier at HSBC and former lead of the Education and Leadership Management at Azim Premji Foundation.

    The founders also shared market activities, traction, and impact of their offerings.

    We have sold more than 10,000 devices since launching our first beta product in 2017. It is available on all ecommerce platforms including our own webstore, says Neha Rastogi of Agatsa Software. The medical-grade devices are also used by state governments in their initiatives of improving rural health.

    Having gathered huge data in our cloud databases, we are working on improving the outcomes of our products by continuously implementing our patented AI algorithms and making the devices more intelligent, she adds. Hospitals, diagnostic labs and tele-healthcare companies are integrating these services to improve judgment and diagnosis.

    We have already reached out to more than 400 patients who have been able to speak with Aum Voice Prosthesis, says Vishal Rao of Innaumation Medical Devices. The company has also set up the Aum Voice Chain to help rehabilitate poor patients who cannot afford the device.

    We are on a mission called #MissionRobohole, which is about converting manholes into 'Roboholes' and replacing manual labour with robots. Moreover, we are upskilling manual scavengers to become robot operators, says Rashid K of Genrobotic Innovations.

    The Bandicoot robots have been deployed in 11 states with more than 40 implementations. Hundreds of manual scavengers have gone through our rehabilitation program to become robot operators and make a change to their life, Rashid proudly says.

    Over the last four years, ISDM has developed a unique curriculum and pedagogy, and over 200 students have graduated across three batches since 2017, according to founder Ravi Sreedharan.

    The approach resonates well with CSR groups under Hindustan Unilever Foundation, Srijan, Dasra, and Azizji Premji Philanthropic Initiatives, among others. Faculty collaborations have been formed with the IIMs, Wharton, Oxford, HBS and INSEAD.

    Winners: Genrobotic Innovations (L), Innaumation Medical Devices (R)

    The global COVID-19 pandemic has turned life upside down for societies and businesses around the world. But despite the challenges, resolute entrepreneurs have ploughed on.

    The worldwide pandemic has been a very unfortunate event and slowed down many business activities from design to supply. The lockdowns posed manufacturing and logistic challenges, Neha Rastogi of Agatsa Software recalls.

    But the company changed track to more of R&D and innovation. We shifted our focus towards understanding the need for user-friendly, portable, and connected devices during the COVID-19 pandemic, considering health concerns, social distancing, and quick screening, she explains.

    The company launched a multi-parameter device, SanketLife Multi-Vital that is capable of taking blood pressure, SpO2, temperature, and ECG all with one single device.

    Due to the pandemic, many cancer hospitals have been converted to COVID centres and are not seeing laryngectomy patients, according to Vishal Rao of Innaumation Medical Devices. Most of the patients are not visiting these hospitals due to the fear of contracting COVID-19. This has impacted sales negatively, he adds.

    But the company has utilised this time to set up the distribution network for India, and reach out to patients and surgeons using digital media. We have used this time to develop a breathable bib made from Dupont Tyvek to help patients stay protected, Vishal adds.

    Recent studies show the presence of COVID-19 RNA in sewage, and there is a risk that sewage-related activities can be the next source for spreading the virus, cautions Rashid K of Genrobotic Innovations. Medical waste from quarantine periods has also increased.

    Sanitation services cannot be postponed or locked down, hence the life of sanitation workers became riskier, he adds. This became a challenge and an opportunity for his company.

    I am happy to share that the Bandicoot robot is helping sanitation workers clean manholes without any direct contact with sewage. Thus, it avoids the chance of getting the virus from sewage, Rashid proudly says.

    The shutdown of all educational institutes to curb the spread of COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on the entire education sector of India, laments Ravi Sreedharan of ISDM. The batch this year has been the smallest, and the institute had to adopt to online activities.

    However, the pandemic and the humanitarian crisis has not been able to dampen the spirit or resolve at ISDM. We see the present crisis as requiring, more than ever before, strategically equipped and trained development managers who are able to navigate challenges with critical innovations, he emphasies.

    A Learning Management System (LMS) helps students access all academic and research resources without barriers. We have also strengthened our subscription to journals and resources to ensure that all learning continues for students without any interruptions, Ravi adds.

    MIF has helped the winners with support and handholding in their journeys to sustain and scale ahead.

    Being recognised by MIF is a very important and prestigious event in the world of startups. They also work very closely with the winners to guide and steer them through various challenges, Neha Rastogi of Agatsa Software explains.

    MIF has helped in areas like digital marketing activities and factory set-up in Bengaluru, says Vishal Rao of Innaumation Medical Devices. We are certain that this will lay a strong foundation for our activities and help us scale up our operations in the near future, he adds.

    MIF has given great support and guidance as well as an excellent platform to spread #MissionRobohole and help make India free of manual scavenging, according to Rashid K of Genrobotic Innovations.

    We hope that being recognised for our work on the prestigious MIF platform will help open new doors for us and give us the opportunity to collaborate on building a pool of knowledge, wisdom and new ideas, adds Ravi Sreedharan of ISDM.

    The award-winning founders shared tips and advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, ranging from mindset to skillsets.

    Everyone looking to be an entrepreneur should believe in the problem they are solving. And there are a lot of problems to be solved in our country, says Neha Rastogi of Agatsa Software.

    Your own belief will compel others to believe in your idea, and thats where the magic starts. Other than that, perseverance is the key it takes time to progress and succeed, she adds.

    Always keep identifying the problems and study its root cause, then get into the process of solving it. This will help you to develop the best solution for the customer, advises Rashid K of Genrobotic Innovations.

    Founders should not lose focus or patience. Just put your heart and soul into the process completely, he adds. The combination of dream, passion and hard work will bring the best output.

    Innovators should believe in themselves, and begin with an innovation for a single user. Markets will develop around the innovation. Leverage the power of uncommon collaborations, recommends Vishal Rao of Innaumation Medical Devices.

    To all aspiring entrepreneurs, we would like to say please continue to dream enormous and audacious dreams much as we have at ISDM. We would encourage people to become social entrepreneurs, treading the balance between helping society and finding adventure in what you pursue, advises Ravi Sreedharan of ISDM.

    As alumni examples, he cites those working on waste recycling and management in urban areas (HaritGriha in Meerut), helping the elderly (Grey Shades), and creating fellowships for social purpose (Kayantar Foundation).

    Entrepreneurs now shoulder the responsibility equally, alongside policy makers and decision makers, to attain a syncretic relationship where each grows without impeding on the other, Ravi signs off.

    Go here to read the rest:
    From problem to product: entrepreneur insights from winners of the Marico Innovation Foundation 2020 awards - YourStory

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