JAMMU, Mar 12: Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board is shortly launching a totally redesigned Palki for the much greater comfort of the pilgrims and convenience of the Palkiwallahs.
The new highly comfortable, much lighter weight, sturdier and aesthetically designed Palkis have been developed by a team of the Industrial Design Centre of IIT Bombay and National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE), Mumbai, in continuing collaboration with the Shrine Board.
It is pertinent to recall that the idea of improving the traditional Palkis was deliberated in a meeting held at Raj Bhavan in December 2014 between Governor N.N. Vohra, Chairman of the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, and Dr. R. Chidambaram, Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India when it was decided that University of Jammu shall act as the nodal point for the functioning of the Rural Technology Action Group (RuTAG) which, with support from IIT, Delhi and other technology institutions will assist the Shrine Board to undertake varied technology upgradation tasks.
Among the decisions taken during discussions between Governor Vohra and Dr. Chidambaram, it was agreed that the traditional Palkis shall be got redesigned through a team of IIT Bombay headed by Prof. B.K. Chakravarthy in collaboration with NITIE. Governor has been regularly reviewing the progress of the project to develop an improved Palki of superior design and much less weight, which is being done with the technical assistance of the Industrial Design Centre, IIT Bombay, under the overall supervision of Dr. Chidambaram.
In the past 4 years, since the conception of the project by the Governor, several designs and prototypes of the improved Palkis have been developed, trial runs have been conducted and modifications made which were based on the feedback provided by the Palkiwallahs.
Under the aegis and support of the Rural Technology Action Group (RuTAG), Mechanical Engineering students from the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University have also been involved in the trial runs of the newly designed Palkis, based upon the continuing feedback from the Palkiwallahs. Some of the Palkiwallahs were also taken to IIT Bombay to provide first-hand feedback regarding the efficacy of the modified Palkis. They have also been imparted training on the use of the improved Palkis.
As of now, 10 newly designed aluminium based Palkis have been received by Anshul Garg, Additional CEO on behalf of Umang Narula, CEO of the Shrine Board, and these are presently plying on the track on a demonstration basis. 90 more Palkis, which are being manufactured, will be available next month.
The newly designed Palkis are 30 kg less in weight than the erstwhile traditional Palkis. This provides very significant convenience to the Palkiwallas to carry pilgrims. The new Palkis have been developed based on ergonomic studies to make the journey comfortable for the pilgrims. Besides presenting a pleasing aesthetic look, the redesigned Palkis are sturdy and can carry weights more than 100 kg.