Handy in a disaster, never sinks

Modernised coracle

Handy in a disaster, never sinks

Ever thought of a modernised version of the old and rustic coracle used mainly by inland fishermen for fishing and ferrying people?

Well, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) at the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) has developed ‘Swarna Hamsa,’ a modernised coracle which can replace conventional ones and can come in handy during a natural disaster. On top of that, it will help fishermen own a coracle that will never sink.

The CSIR organised a field test of two variants of ‘Swarna Hamsa’ — a bamboo mat board coracle coated with fibre glass and another with an aluminium coat — for Hindalco at Ulsoor lake on Tuesday. The company may jointly develop the aluminium-based water vessel in coordination with the Aluminium Association of India. V Ramaswamy, assistant vice president of Hindalco, said the coracles looked impressive.

The coracles have been designed using the concept of 3D shaping by flat-pattern development. While the baseline material research originated from Indian Plywood Industries Research and Training Institute (IPIRTI), the CSIR-NAL contributed the use of aluminium-like material for configuring the boat.

A laboratory prototype of the bamboo coracle was successfully field-tested in Mallaghatta and Turuvekere lakes in Tumkur district in June 2012, but the fishermen felt it was too deep.

S Selvarajan, the inventor of the coracle and chief scientist at CSIR, NAL, said the key element in developing the coracles was to make them low-cost without compromising on safety. “The present innovation can go a long way in providing an affordable water vessel to inland fishermen. The coracles also have a safety-outrigger installed, a motorisable version that can be used during disaster situations,” he added.

The bamboo coracle weighs 27 kg — lighter than the conventional ones but has the same capacity to carry over 600 kg. It would cost about Rs 5,000. Officials of the Fisheries department said ‘Swarna Hamsa’ coracles could be easily distributed to fishermen under government schemes. But the CSIR never participated in the tender process, they added.

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