Snag cripples operation of solar-powered boat

The solar-powered boat deployed in Manimuthar dam.

The solar-powered boat deployed in Manimuthar dam.  


Fun ride in Manimuthar dam has suffered a temporary setback


The fun ride in the solar-powered boat in the Manimuthar dam has suffered a temporary setback as technical snag has crippled the boat’s operation into the district’s largest reservoir.

The Kalakkad – Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve administration, which introduced coracle ride in Manimuthar Dam in the first quarter of last year to attract tourists, deployed the 26-seater solar-powered boat (including two seats for the crew), fabricated by the Mahindra Group, in April last for field trials. Under the Tamil Nadu Innovation Initiative, the Department of Forest received ₹ 2.25 crore for promoting eco-tourism activities in KMTR and a portion of this grant has been utilised for procuring the solar-powered boat.

The boat, propelled by a lithium-ion battery, is 11.8 metre long and 4 metre wide. One of its unique aspects is that it has a German motor (20 KW) with solar roof on top which can generate 3.8 KW of power. The solar roof will help the boat get partially charged while moving. The field trials were conducted successfully with 24 persons cruising in the boat. Once it becomes operational, the boat will take tourists into the dam’s water, surrounded by the Western Ghats, it was announced.

After the ₹ 80-lakh worth boat’s field trials in the largest reservoir of the district were completed successfully in phases, the boat was formally commissioned by Deputy Director Kommu Omkaram on New Year.

Mr. Omkaram, after witnessing the trials, said the boat performed well during the field trials and met all pre-set parameters. “The boat is very easy to operate though it would be so windy in Manimuthar dam between June and September,” he said.

As the dam now has water for about 114 feet against the maximum storage level of 118 feet, the solar boat was expected to attract a decent number of tourists every day, particularly during the ‘Pongal’ holidays. While ₹ 110 is being charged per adult for the 30-minute ride, ₹ 55 is the fare for the children.

However, the unexpected breakdown of the solar-powered boat due to technical glitches has shocked the officials, who have informed their higher-ups to send the service engineers at the earliest to make the boat operational again.

Sources in the KMTR’s Ambasamudram Range told The Hindu that the boat, which is being operated at very slow speed with solar power, should be accelerated further and hence a few modifications are to be done. Since the solar power panels on the roof of the boat had developed “technical glitches”, either repairing or replacement would be done by the supplier shortly.

“If the speed of the boat can be increased a bit, the 30-minute-long ride in the dam will be more attractive. Anyway, the boat will be ready to receive the tourists coming to Manimuthar dam during Pongal holidays,” hoped the sources.

Since the plastic used for the seats in the boat cannot withstand the weight of heavier passengers, the seats should also be replaced, opined the sources.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 11:11:23 AM |

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