This small innovation is bound to make a big difference in the lives of hill folks in Himachal Pradesh,
who cross the turbulent rivers in Himachal Pradesh on traditional ropeways, referred as 'jhullas' locally, risking safety and security.
A core group of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Goverment of India, the Society for Technology and Development, here is on the job to replace the half manual ropeways with durable and safe mechanical ones in a tie-up with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mandi for design. The two have worked on a pedal or wheel-operated ropeway for trial and are mid-way in the research.
"We have got this project from Science and Society division of DST. We will first run the model on river for trial basis and then finalise it for transfer of technology in the field," Executive Director of Society, Joginder Walia told The Statesman.Walia said enginner Dr Rajnish Sharma from IIT, Mandi, who hails from Himachal and has a understanding of local terain and problems, is collaborating in the project, which has small but significant funding of Rs five lakh, that includes Rs 1.5 lakh for the trial.
The traditional 'jhullas' are lifeline for people living on tough hill side across the rivers in Himachal Pradesh, which either lack connectivity by bridge or involve a very long route by road. The 'jhullas' over major rivers Beas in Kullu district, Satluj in tribal Kinnaur and tributaries of other rivers in interior areas of Chamba and Sirmour are a common sight in HP.
They are indispensable in hill lifestyle as they also serve a live alternate to transport people in routine and in medical emergency in case bridges across the rivers are washed away in flash floods or cloud bursts in HP as it usually happens in rainy season or the roads block due to snow in winters.These conventional 'jhullas' are mainly installed by the District Rural Development Agency in different areas and are generally manned by Public Works department of the state government. Depending on need, in some remote pockets of the state, some prosperous individuals have also installed them.
Although these ropeways have existed for times immemorial for village folks, they require manual operations and are not fully safe. They have other drawbacks also.
"The existing ropeways are pulled by a person or the user himself, which involves a lot of hassle and energy.They put ghe hands of a person in danger These ropeways are uncontrollable as they start and once they reach the middle of the distance over river, they sag and then require double energy to pull. More so, they have a single wheel and rope (iron), so chances of tilting and breakage are more," explained DP Gupta, President of the Society for Technology and Development.
He said considering these blocks, the Society approached the IIT, Mandi to improvise the 'jhullas' in public interest.
"We are aiming at a ropeways, which would not require services of other person. The user can either pedal his or her way over the river or use the principle of wheel chair resting on three ropes. Such a ropeway would be stronger with lesser chances of tilting mid way,"Gupta said.
The Mandi based society had showcased prototype of mechanical 'jhulla', at the India International Festival at Delhi earlier this month, where it won appreciation. The Society now wants to hold a competition for engineering colleges and polytechnics in the state in February next year on the concept of mechanical ' jhullas' to learn more, before finalising the design.