BENGALURU: To ensure that Indian soldiers posted on borders and cold regions are warm and safe, researchers at Karnataka State Sericulture Research and Development Institute (KSSRDI) are working with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to make blankets using silk as the inner material, instead of polypropylene.
Normally, blankets (razai) have cotton or polypropylene or polyester inside them which makes them heavy. Under the trials being conducted, the blankets being made from silk will not only make them lighter, but will also have additional electrical circuits to keep them warm in minus 18 degrees Celsius in cold places like the Siachen Glacier.
A Jambunath, in-charge registrar and chief scientist at silk division of KSSRDI, told The New Indian Express that trials began a year ago and it will be a reality soon. The institute is also training individuals, especially women and startups, to make them self-reliant.
While each blanket would cost the DRDO around Rs 45,000-50,000, for citizens, the price will range from Rs 3,000 to Rs 30,000. The institute is working on making premium quality silk blankets for the defence personnel for which one and half kg of silk is used as filling.
K’taka makes 11K-12K MT of silk a year
For citizens, the weight of the silk used as filling will start from 700 grams as some other materials will also be used. “The reason why silk is being used is because it keeps one more warm when compared to other materials. It needs little or no maintenance and can be washed easily. It is easy to carry, is eco-friendly and also helps in generating employment in rural areas,” Jambunath said.
Karnataka produces 11,000-12,000 metric tonnes of silk per annum, of which 20 per cent is waste. The researchers use 10-15 per cent of the waste material from spun silk and hand spun silk to make blankets. “A large quantity of silk from Ramanagara and other parts of the state was being sent to China for the same purpose. At present, silk exported to China is being imported back to India in the form of blankets via Korea and Brazil markets. This is also a developing industry which we want to explore. But as a government body, we cannot venture into commercial operations,” explained another official.