Bamboo coracles better bet than choppers

If boats are what people of flood-hit Jammu & Kashmir are asking for to commute and rescue those stranded, then the indigenous coracles (handwoven bamboo boats) are the ideal ones for the purpose, says a scientist from the National Aerospace Laboratories, Bangalore.

Dr S Selvarajan, chief scientist, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), NAL, who is also the inventor of a modernised coracle, says there are at least 100 indigenous coracles available at Hogenakkal in Salem district, Tamil Nadu.

“I had contacted the director general of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) to airlift the coracles from Hogenakkal and transport them to  flood-hit Kashmir, which can be of great help to them. They had even asked me how many such coracles were available and I told them at least 50-100 can be sent immediately,” he said.

He said the magnitude of the flood situation in Kashmir was much more than what has been reported and that there was a need for several hundreds of coracles to transport people stuck in remote locations. Instead of airlifting people by helicopter, which is time-consuming, the NDRF and the Army could use small boats and coracles to shift people to safer places, he said.

Selvarajan has developed a modernised version of the old and rustic coracle ‘Swarna Hamsa’, a bamboo-mat board coracle coated with fibre glass and another with aluminium coat. The bamboo coracle weighs 27 kg and is lighter than the conventional ones, but has the same capacity to carry over 600 kg. In April this year, CSIR had organised a field test of the modernised coracles in Ulsoor Lake, Bangalore.

Handy aid

Coracle boats with oars can easily be airlifted in large numbers and dropped anywhere by helicopters with the help of ropes. It is light – the weight of two boats is equal to one person’s weight.

Coracles can be easily mobilised from Hogennekal, Mysore, Bhadravati, Hampi and other places. The Department of Inland Fisheries can do the job (a coracle hardly costs Rs 3,000).

These items can be airlifted by ASTE flights to Leh and delivered to waterlogged areas by helicopters. Hundreds of such light-weight, self-help coracle boats hold the solution for Srinagar.

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