DIBRUGARH, Sept 11 � Constant research about bamboo has increased its applications and simultaneously given rise to new innovative products. Today, bamboo is fast becoming a catalyst for development and an effective means to enhance the livelihood of rural people.
As boats made of wooden planks in the State are dwindling for want of timber, bamboo has been discovered as a viable alternative. Tilak Chandra Mahanta, an Executive Engineer of the Inland Water Transport, Dibrugarh Division, has established that boats can be made of bamboo stalk pieces too.
Mahanta and his innovative team have come up with a unique 3.5-metre boat made of bhaluka bamboo. The width of the boat is one metre. After treating the bamboo stalk pieces in lime water solution for about 15 days, it took hardly five working days to produce the bamboo boat. The boat was created on the banks of the river Brahmaputra at Maijanghat. One Sumon Rabidas, a traditional boat-maker, did the carpentry work. In order to seal the spaces between the bamboo stalk pieces, a solution of bitumen and dhuna powder was used to repel water. The bamboo boat is similar to any traditional wooden boat. It can carry some eight to ten persons.
While talking to this correspondent, Mahanta said that a motor can also be fitted into the bamboo boat for faster movement. �It is viable and cost-effective. This can easily be built by any bamboo artisan for personal use or commercial purposes like ferrying passengers and carrying goods. Such boats can also be made available in flood-prone areas for relief and rescue operations,� he said.
Asked how the idea of creating a boat of bamboo stalk pieces struck his mind, Mahanta said the boat industry was suffering due to lack of timber, especially the azhar and gandsarai species. �Economically backward rural farmers in the riverine areas and fishermen supporting their families cannot afford wooden boats due to the rise in the prices of available timber. These thoughts stimulated me to try bamboo as an alternative to wood and thus, we built and experimented one,� Mahanta said, adding that mature jati bamboo can also be used for making such boats.