Jugaad of a Class 10 dropout
An inventive mechanic comes up with amphibian vehicle for fishers
Barely able to make both ends meet, Edla Shankar, 44, is a proud inventor of a boat made in an unconventional way, which could be of great use to fishermen. This spirited innovator hailing from Koheda mandal, 30 km from Siddipet, fixes tyre punctures in the day and in the evenings and during spare time tries his hand at improving his fishing boat that he designed in what one may call another Indian jugaad.
A class 10 dropout, Shankar has been mending vehicles for over 30 years. Building a boat with spare parts from two-wheelers was the last thing in his mind, but a chance outing to the Shanigaram reservoir along with local fishermen was the turning point in his life. "They would venture into the water on thermocol sheets. It was then that the idea was born to build a vehicle that could move on water and land," says Shankar.
That outing was one-and-a-half years ago. Consumed with the idea and obsessed to build one, he initially bought an old Hero Honda CD 100 for Rs 6,000 and used the handle and the motor for his project. He also manufactured fans all by himself that would help propel the boat. Without a formal education, trial and error was the only option. At first, he came up with a boat on a single thermocol sheet and later decided to increase the height with a double sheet that can hold more weight.
After successful trial runs, the boat now runs for an hour with a litre of petrol. Shankar says, "If one makes four to five trips, one can catch a tonne of fish." Local fishermen are expecting 10 tonnes of fish from the Badugula Cheruvu in the next three months and the excitement is palpable.
News of the boat spread far and wide and people from nearby villages are reaching out to Shankar to build one for them. Fishermen from Bejjanki mandal approached him. He says, "I lost my father on Dussehra day. I plan to build one for them next year. The purpose of coming up with this boat is to lessen the hardships of fishermen and make it safe."
Technically, it may not be called a fishing boat, but it serves the purpose and one can be made in Rs 25,000. It costs Shankar Rs 22,000. The present one is 7/5 feet and Shankar has plans of building a bigger and more robust one. He says, "I watched a number of videos of fishing boats that run on a motor and I came up with the idea of using a motor of a two-wheeler. People did laugh at the idea but then I was so consumed by the idea that I wanted to give it a try."
With no support from anyone, he spent money from his savings. The present model can carry four persons and hold a weight of 80-90 kg. There have been queries from locals if he could rent it out as well. For now, Shankar has not given commitment but who knows.
What is more, it can also be moved onto land and be driven away to a safe location like an amphibian vehicle.
It is a low-cost innovation that can be remodelled with a little help from the government. It is a rural innovation at its best that could change the lives of fishermen. Any takers?
(With inputs from Jeekuru Parmeshwar)