Tamil Nadu’s First Solar-Powered Boat Completes Field Trial

The solar-powered ferry after successful field trails looks to start operations by May end in the ecosensitive region of Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu Forest department which procured a state-of-the-art solar-powered boat last month to boost eco-tourism inside Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR) in Tirunelveli has finished its field trails.

The solar-powered boat, deployed at Manimuthar Dam will take visitors for fun ride into the largest reservoir of the district in Tamil Nadu. And now after running successful trails the boat is reportedly to be commissioned before the end of this month.

Costing about Rs 60 lakh, the 26-seater boat (including two seats for the crew),  is to operate at the Kalakkad – Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve administration, which introduced coracle ride recently in the dam to attract tourists.

The solar-powered boat is fabricated by the Mahindra Group, is similar to the Maharashtra police boat deployed last year, which was also customized and manufactured by Mahindra Group. 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 by the end May, the boat will take tourists into the dam’s water, surrounded by the Western Ghats.

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Deputy Director, KMTR’s Ambasamudram Division, Omkaram, 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,” he said.

The department reportedly is planning to order a few more boats and extend the services at Karaiyar Dam, situated in Mundanthurai range of Ambasamudram Division in KMTR. The water submersion area is owned by the forest department and was declared as a critical tiger habitat.

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