NATIONAL

Project redesign for age-old bullock-carts

Dennis Marcus Mathew

HYDERABAD: Rural transport in India seems to be all set for a major overhaul. Efforts are on to gradually change the vital statistics of the poor man's vehicle, the age-old bullock cart, from its present wooden anatomy to a more durable, full steel physique.

The initiative comes after separate research by two organisations, the Hyderabad-based National Academy of Construction (NAC), and the Kolkata-based Institute for Steel Development and Growth (INSDAG). The NAC, in its efforts to extend the lifespan of rural roads, was trying to reduce road damage caused by wooden tyres of bullock carts. With INSDAG mooting a steel bullock cart, the NAC will now help in popularising the same.

INSDAG, in association with the Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CMERI), Durgapur, has already developed prototypes of full-steel bullock carts, according to its director-general, R.K.P.Singh. The models are under trial in Durgapur and Jharkhand. ``The platform for the steel bullock cart is made of steel tubes, which are less heavier and better load carriers. The total weight of the cart will be 220-250 kg. To reduce the pulling force, bearings are provided and brakes that can be operated from the front and rear are fitted. Metallic wheels can be interchanged with pneumatic tyre tube type wheels,'' Dr. Singh said.

``The cost of these will be only marginally higher compared to conventional wooden carts. We have initially developed two designs. The smaller one, for one bull, can carry 0.5 tonne. The bigger one for two bulls can carry two tonnes.''

``It will also reduce cruelty on animals, is sustainable and an environment-friendly communication mode where road connectivity is poor," he said. There are constraints in publicising the vehicle though, like unavailability of fabricators, lack of facilities for knowledge dissemination and fund shortage in villages.

``These can be solved by the Government, NGOs and banks. We are planning to train fabricators in large numbers," Dr. Singh said.

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