NEW DELHI: The 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, the premier defence technology developer has said in a revealing internal communication.
In response to a question raised by two MPs in the Lok Sabha, who sought details of the DRDO’s spending on a chariot for a temple, the RD&E, Pune laboratory, which manufactured the chariot said in a clarification last week that the “Making of Rath was not just a devotional activity but also an interesting technical task”.
The DRDO has claimed that it had spent only Rs 17 lakh from its budget and rest of the amount came as donation from devotees. It was also revealed that it had taken up 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 temple in Pune, 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 the matter raised in the Lok Sabha . In a four-page-long communique dated January 27, 2015 (seen by Express), Guruprasad, while defending his decision said, “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, the DRDO said that the battery power is drawn when going uphill, and it gets charged while proceeding downhill.
“The technology hence developed has a defence application. The trailer-based system can be taken to difficult terrain which is currently not possible…The social significance of the design concept and technology especially for the burdened bullock carts are immense,” Guruprasad explained.
He said, “Even, if the chariot were not built, the technology development involves building lab prototypes, many times, a number of them until the desired results are obtained. In this case, the chariot became a reason and inspiration for technology development. The expenditure would have incurred anyway for technology development.”