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Sustainable river transportation in India: a solar-powered boat to sail on Ganga


ganga-riverThe American journalist and traveller Thomas Tomczyk and Guatemalan filmmaker Ana Cosenza will travel along the Ganga river onboard a solar-powered vessel: it will be a world record for the longest solar boat travel down a river. The trip, which will be resulting in a documentary called ‘Electric River Odissey’, is aimed to bolster public trust in clean energy and environment friendly transport.
Tomczyk and Cosenza will sail down from Rishikesh in Uttarakhand to the Sagar Island in Bay of Bengal, starting from next week, and, in six to eight week, they will stop in various towns and cities along the river where the documentary will be filmed.
A Kochi-based company, Team Sustain has created the solar-powered boat by modifying a Zodiac Rubber Boat to fit three solar panels and a powerful electric motor, so to provide the necessary vessel for the trip.
According to the international duo, although the alternative energy solutions are already available, people still refer to it as “technology of the future” and don’t have much trust in it. “We chose to use a solar boat because we believe that clean energy and self-sufficiency is very important,” Cosenza said. “We want to prove that this extraordinary journey can be accomplished and inspire people in turn to think outside the box.”
Tomczyk, who is also the executive producer for this project, isn’t new to such king of sustainable travels. In 2015, he broke the record for the longest electric motorcycle ride for his Philadelphia to the tip of Patagonia, Chile’s Punta Arenas trip. Filmmaker Cosenza documented those journeys as well.
Such project comes right after an experiment by the Kerala State Water Transport Department, which proposed to use a network of solar-powered electric ferries for public and touristic transportation. The prototyped 75-seater boat is the country’s first solar-powered ferry, crafted by NavAlt, a joint venture between French company AltEn and Indian firm, Navgathi. The eco-friendly ferry has been put into the water in mid-August, serving the 2.5 km-long Vaikkom-Thavanakkadavu route in Vembanad Lake in Kottayam district.
Both the recent launch of the ferry boat and the upcoming documentary project may enhance many Indian boat operators to replace the conventional boats with solar-powered ones.