Recently, the Union Finance Minister in the Union Budget for 2022-23 announced National Ropeways Development Programme – “Parvatmala” to improve connectivity in hilly areas.
Gist of the National Ropeways Development Programme (Parvatmala)
- Announced in the Union Budget 2022-2023.
- To be implemented by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways through the PPP mode.
- It is being started in Manipur, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and other North Eastern states.
- The Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules 1961 was amended in February 2021 and the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways was given the authority to take care of the development of Ropeways and Alternate Mobility Solutions in the country.
What is Parvatmala?
The Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the Parvatmala scheme in the recent Union Budget. Important points related to the National Ropeways Development Programme as announced in the Budget are given below:
- The scheme will be implemented through the PPP mode.
- In 2022-23, contracts for 8 ropeway projects will be given. These ropeway projects will cover a length of 60 km.
About Parvatmala Scheme
- Parvatmala Scheme is an ecologically sustainable alternative in place of conventional roads in difficult hilly areas.
- The scheme will be taken up on PPP (Public Private Partnership) mode,
- Besides promoting tourism, the objective is to improve connectivity and convenience for commuters.
- This scheme is also suitable for the implementation in congested urban areas where a traditional mass transit system would be impractical.
- According to the Finance Minister, contracts for eight 60-kilometre ropeway projects will be given in 2022-23.
- Currently, the scheme is being implemented in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Jammu and Kashmir, and other North-Eastern states.
MoU with Uttarakhand
- MORTH initiated a study carried out by M/s Mckinsey & Co. for Ropeway development in the country. The study suggested that MORTH may take National Ropeway Development Programme named “Parvatmala”, similar to the “Bharatmala” programme.
- An MoU has been signed with Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board (UTDB), for the development of Ropeways in the State. Initially, seven projects have been identified in Uttarakhand.
- Currently, DPR for Kedarnath and Hemkund Sahib Ropeway is in progress, for which NIT has been invited. The Ministry has received proposals from Governments of Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir for the development of Ropeways.
Aim of the Parvatmala- National Ropeways Development Programme
The Parvatmala scheme aims to fulfil the following:
- Firstly, Enhance connectivity in hilly regions
- Enable convenient and safe mobility for tourists and commuters in difficult hilly terrains.
- Promote tourism
The ropeways system may also be provided in congested urban areas, where conventional mass transit systems are unviable.
Which Ministry will implement the Parvatmala Scheme?
The National Ropeways Development Programme will be implemented by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH).
Role of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH)
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways so far used to primarily develop Highways and regulate the road transport sector in India. However, with the amendment of the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules 1961 in February 2021, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways was given the authority to take care of the development of Ropeways and Alternate Mobility Solutions. Now the Ministry has the power to develop relevant technology, construct, research and formulate policies with regard to ropeway and alternative mobility solutions. MORTH will also draw up a financial, institutional and regulatory framework for the technology.
Importance of Ropeway Infrastructure
- Economical mode of transportation: The per km cost for ropeways is more when compared to roadways. However, given that ropeways are constructed in a straight line over a hilly area, it reduces the costs related to land acquisition. Therefore, the cost of ropeway projects may happen to be lower or economical than roadways.
- Faster mode of transportation: Ropeways is an aerial mode of transportation and may prove to be faster than roadway projects given that ropeways are constructed in a straight line, over hilly regions.
- Environmentally friendly and ecologically sustainable alternative: Dust emissions are lower and the material containers can be designed in such a way so as to avoid any damage to the environment.
- Last mile connectivity: Ropeway projects that use 3S (a kind of cable car system) or equivalent technologies can transport 6000-8000 passengers per hour. This will help people in travelling frequently, easily and safely, given that rail and air connectivity is limited in hilly areas. Therefore, this will improve the efficiency of the transport network in hilly regions.
Benefits of Parvatmala- National Ropeways Development Programme
- Ideal for difficult and sensitive terrain: The ropeway system can easily cross over rivers, ravines and other difficult terrains. Therefore, its long rope spans are an added advantage along with low space requirements on the ground,and no/less barriers for humans or animals. The ropeway system will improve the mobility of people, especially farmers and other traders/sellers living in hilly regions.
- Economy: Ropeways have multiple cars propelled by a single power-plant and drive mechanism. Such technology reduces both construction and maintenance costs. The use of a single operator for an entire ropeway saves labour cost. On level ground, the cost of ropeways is competitive with narrow-gauge railroads; in the mountains the ropeway is far superior.
- Flexible: A ropeway helps in the simultaneous transport of different types of material through its network.
- Ability to handle large slopes: Ropeways and cableways can help in handling large slopes and large differences in elevation. Where a road or railroad needs switchbacks or tunnels, a ropeway travels straight up and down the fall line. Eg: The old cliff railways in England and ski resort ropeways in the mountains make use of this feature.
- Low footprint: Given that only narrow-based vertical supports are required at intervals, it leaves the rest of the ground free, making it possible for ropeways to be constructed in built-up areas and in places where there is intense competition for land use.
Who is the Nodal Ministry?
- The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH) will have responsibility for development of ropeway and alternative mobility solutions technology, as well as construction, research, and policy in this area.
- In February 2021, the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules 1961 was amended, which enabled the MORTH to also look after the development of Ropeways and Alternate Mobility Solutions.
- The move will give a boost to the sector by setting up a regulatory regime.
- The MORTH has so far been responsible for development of Highways and regulating the road transport sector across the country.
Idea behind Ropeways Infrastructure
- Cost-Effective Alternative: Ropeways are an economical means of transportation since they are built in a straight route over mountainous terrain, resulting in lower land acquisition expenses. As a result, while having a greater construction cost per kilometre than motorways, ropeway projects may be more cost-effective than roadways.
- Faster & Better: Ropeways offer an advantage over roadway projects since they can be erected in a straight line, even over mountainous terrain, because they are an aerial means of transportation.
- Sustainable Alternative: Ropeways can pave the way towards low dust emissions which is good for the environment. Material containers can be built to prevent environmental contamination.
- Last mile connectivity: Ropeways are preferably better for last-mile connectivity ease. The projects using 3S (a type of cable car system) or related technologies can transport 6000-8000 passengers in the last mile.
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Benefits of Ropeways
Economical mode of transportation: Given that ropeway projects are built in a straight line over hilly terrain, it results in lower land acquisition costs. However, despite having a higher cost of construction per km than roadways, ropeway projects construction cost may happen to be more economical than roadways.
Faster mode of transportation: Owing to the aerial mode of transportation, ropeways have an advantage over roadway projects where ropeways can be built in a straight line, over a hilly terrain.
Environmentally friendly: Low dust emissions. Material containers can be designed to rule out any soiling of the environment.
Last-mile connectivity: Ropeway projects adopting 3S (a kind of cable car system) or equivalent technologies can transport 6000-8000 passengers per hour.
Ideal for difficult/challenging/sensitive terrain: This mode of transportation will enable mobility to people living in difficult areas and help them become part of the mainstream.
Flexible: Transport of different materials – A ropeway allows for the simultaneous transport of different types of material.
Ability to handle large slopes: Ropeways and cableways (cable cranes) can handle large slopes and large differences in elevation. Where a road or railroad needs switchbacks or tunnels, a ropeway travels straight up and down the fall line.
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