Technology developed and transferred by IIT Kharagpur to rural populations become popular


KOLKATA: On March 26, the director of IIT Kharagpur, Partha Pratim Chakrabarti, flagged off a truck bearing a small hoarding which said, “Technology Transfer to the government of Tripura”. The vehicle carried a consignment of five machines produced by the Rural Design Innovation Centre of IIT Kharagpur. In it were 4 gas-based puffed rice (muri) making machines and one motorized dehusker or dhenki in Bengali.

This is the third consignment that is making its way to distant Agartala. A total of 22 machines have already been transported through earlier consignments, said P.B.S. Bhadoria, Coordinator of the Design Innovation Centre of IIT Kharagpur and Rural Technology Action Group-Eastern India. He heads the multi-disciplinary team at the Institute that has been making a major difference to the lives of the rural population by introducing new rural technology that makes their work easier or upgrading the technology that is already in use.

The two units in IIT Kharagpur making this possible are the RuTAG-EI and DIC. The first was set up in 2008 and the second in 2016 as part of the MHRD’s national initiative for design innovation. RuTAG has connected with more than 50 NGOs in West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand and Bihar, several self-help groups and individual beneficiaries, and devised technological innovations that have improved the life and livelihood of clusters of rural population in these states.

The Design Innovation Centre of IIT Kharagpur sponsored by MHRD has also made important contributions.

“They voice the need and we provide the solution,” said Bhadoria. Often the individuals who use the technology work together with the team, as happened during the time they were devising the Motorized Single Twist and Double Twist Jute Rope Making Machine. The machine devised by DIC has increased productivity by 500g/hr and is also being used in Tripura. The government of Tripura and ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (MDoNER) has invested around Rs 40 lakh for the machines. The North-East, in fact, figures prominently in the enterprise of both the IIT Kharagpur units.

The MDoNER is in collaboration with IIT Kharagpur. MDoNER is willing to adopt and disseminate technologies like muri making, feed block making through different schemes/livelihood projects. Biomass-based and LPG based puffed rice making machines are one of the most popular products of IIT Kharagpur. The others are motorized pottery wheel, mechanized dehusker or dhenki, Rice flaking (chiwra) machine, motorized jute rope making the machine and motorized Sabai Grass rope making a machine. Of these, the puffed-rice making machine is the most expensive. Till now the units have developed close to 35 products and filed for 32 patents. They have transferred technologies to both NGOs and individuals, many of these in and around in the villages of IIT Kharagpur itself.

As part of the Unnat Bharat Abhiyan, IIT Kharagpur has transferred many of these technologies in the villages of Kenthia, Balijuri, Bhimpur and Porapara along with interventions in the natural resources management, organic farming, post-harvest processing technologies, storage and non- farm technologies. These have been well received by the local people.

The demand for the products far outstrips the supply and there are not many hands going around for the fabrication of the machines. The team has entered into an arrangement with STEP and is looking out for entrepreneurs to fabricate the machines. Every day there are calls from distant shores – as far away as Malaysia, California and even Dubai. And of course, call for more consignments to deliver to the hills of Tripura and perhaps increasingly other North Eastern states.

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