By Pradip Kumar
Published: 08th Feb 2015 05:57:37 AM – The Sunday Standard
NEW DELHI: It’s a bullock-load of inspiration pushing technology. DRDO’s controversial Rs 5 crore expenditure on a silver chariot for a religious Rath Yatra, was an “inspired” decision to save the chariot bullock from carrying the burden, India’s premier defence technology developer has said in a revealing internal communication.
In response to a question raised by two parliamentarian in the LS for seeking details of DRDO’s spending on a chariot for a temple in Zero hour during last session, the RD&E, Pune laboratory, which manufactured this chariot claims in the last week that ‘making of Rath was not just a devotional activity but also an interesting technical task.’ They went into saying that Chariot became a reason and inspiration for technology development.
RDO claims they only spend Rs 17 lack from its budget and rest of amount came as donation from devotees.
DRDO initiated the project after the bullock pulling the Rath died in front of the DRDO laboratory. Interestingly, the DRDO believes that the expenditure on the “battery-operated Rath” which was donated to a Pune temple after the temple’s Rath puller, a bullock, died, presumably because of carrying heavy burden, was not a religious activity or waste of public money but a technological wonder which can solve the problem of “transporting heavy burden in difficult terrains.”
S. Guruprasad, Director of Research and Development Establishment Labrotary, Pune(R&DE), which manufactured the chariot, has written to the DRDO headquarters in response to matter raised in the Lok Sabha during the zero hour by two members. In a four page official communication dated January 27, 2015 (seen by The Sunday Standard), Guruprasad, while defending his decision said that ‘the making of Rath (chariot) was not just a devotional activity, but also an interesting technical task. Apart from saving the bullock the burden, there were technology developments of immense value directly as a result of this engagement’.
Explaining the technology used for developing the battery-operated chariot, DRDO said that the battery power is drawn when going uphill, and the battery gets charged while downhill. “The technology hence developed has a defense application. The trailer-based system can be taken to difficult terrain which is currently no possible…The social significance of the design concept and technology especially for the burdened bullock carts are immense,” Director explained.
He said, ‘Even, if the chariot was not built, the technology development involves building lab prototypes, many times, a number of them until desired results are obtained. In this case, the chariot became a reason and ‘inspiration’ for technology development. The expenditure would have happened anyway for technology development.”
Shiv Sena MP from Nasik Hemant Tukaram Godse and a MP from Patiala Dharam Veer Ghandhi of AAP had asked on December 18, 2014, about ‘gifting of chariot to Alandi temple out of DRDO fund. DRDO maintained that the approximate cost of the technology of Rs 20 lakh was sanctioned from the financial powers of the Laboratory Director under “build up revenue” and rest of the money came from devotees, who approached R&DE for doing the decorative work to the convert the trailer into a Rath. In the end, Guruprasad has written that after the Yatra of 2014(June, 2014), the chariot is under the custody of R&DE and in the inventory of the laboratory.