Devised by Brigadier S. S. Brar (Indian Army Retd) CEO of Sarvatra, each Arjun machine is built around a mechanical back-hoe like those you can see on many construction sites. The cab and vital areas are armoured and a special heavy-duty rake-head is attached. The rake-head combines two tools. The first is a serrated blade to cut undergrowth at ground level. The second is a heavy rake that breaks the ground to a depth of 20cm or more and lifts mines and roots to the surface.
Skilled operators control the machines, watching closely as the ground is disturbed, looking for evidence of mines and other explosive devices. When the rake lifts a mine out of the ground, they pause to reposition the tool and use it to gently pick the mine up. The cab swivels around and the operator deposits each mine carefullyly onto the raked ground at the back of the machine. A deminer picks up the mine using a long tool and places it into a sand-bucket. Each mine is then disarmed and destroyed.
The Arjun vegetation cutter and rake tool also serves as a levelling blade.
It is very heavy and shockingly robust.
After Arjun has raked an area where mines have been found, it withdraws and starts work in another place. Sarvatra deminers, usually trained local men and women, divide the area and sift the ground with long-handled rakes designed for the purpose. When they find a mine, a supervisor is called to deal with it. The ground is searched so thoroughly that there is no chance of a mine being left behind. More than 30,000 mines (anti-personnel and anti-vehicle) have been cleared using the Arjun demining system - and considerable quantities of UXO as well. To date, there have been no accidents, and no mines found after Sarvatra hand over the land to the NMAA for release.
Brigadier S.S.Brar (Indian Army Retd) with an Arjun demining team.
Arjun can work in dense jungle, working around large trees and following the line of the minefields. It can safely pick apart old bunkers where there may be unstable munitions, mines or booby-traps. It can rake the steep sides of bunds or in irrigation ditches. And when not assisting with demining, the machine can be used to help dig wells or level ground for building.
At this site, Arjun has worked in and around the large trees, leaving them undisturbed.
Each yellow topped stick marks a place where a mine was found.
Versatile and very efficient, Arjun based demining has proved far more successful than methods that use expensive imported machines. For example, funded by the Government of India, the Sarvatra Arjun demining teams in Sri Lanka have cleared more land in 2010 than any other international demining group working there, and done so at far lower cost than their work. This has assisted in the resettlement of more than 7000 people, given work to local people, and helped to provide the security on which a lasting peace can be built.
The Arjun demining system is proven, cost-effective and entirely appropriate for use in post-conflict environments. Because it uses low-tech machines that are widely used in construction and employs local people, the skills required for demining are readily transferred and local "ownership" of the demining need can take place. the Arjun demining system is especially appropriate when the demining effort is part of a coherent and planned peace-building agenda.
For an independent assessment of the Arjun Demining System (made in April 2011) see http://www.nolandmines.com/Arjun_Demining_System.htm