By Rajat Mishra
Parvatmala Yojana or the National Ropeway Development Programme announced a year ago is attracting a lot of investor interest in many states, with around 250 proposals having been received by the ministry of road, transport, and highways.
Ropeways, which is generally seen as a tourist attraction, is now getting a lot of traction as a significant solution for transportation requirements.
“In a bid to de-congest urban cities, ropeways are preferred as a transportation mode because of its economical cost than roadways and environment-friendly nature. The response to the programme has been overwhelming,” a senior government official told FE.
The ministry has also prioritised eight ropeway projects worth Rs 4,000 crore to develop 60 km length under the Parvatmala Scheme. In the current fiscal, it will award the seven projects to contractors, apart from the already awarded Varanasi ropeway project to Vishwa Samudra Engineering Private Limited.
The Varanasi ropeway contract is worth Rs 807 crore for the construction of a 3.85 km urban ropeway project. In Varanasi, the capacity of the project is 3000 persons per hour (pph), in Ujjain and Hemkund the capacity is 2000 pph, however, in Kedarnath, the capacity stands at 3600 pph.
“The ropeway market is a new market with a huge potential. The government is also learning the nuances of it. Though only one project has been awarded in the past one and a half years, the project awards are picking up,” an industry executive said. According to the official, the process for awarding five more projects- Kedarnath (9.70 km), Hemkund Sahib (12.40 km), Ujjain (1.99 km), Shivkhori (2.1 km), Bijli Mahadev (2.4 km), is on, and is likely to be completed by the end of March 2023. “The bottleneck that existed earlier, especially in ropeway projects was that no detailed project report was prepared for them,” an industry insider told FE.
Now, the government has started doing DPR for all the projects, now over 200 DPRs are in process, which is the key to the smooth take-off of the programme. However, according to infrastructure expert Vinayak Chatterjee, safety is still a concern.
“As far as ropeways are concerned, safety is paramount. The Union home ministry wrote to all the states in April for having standard operating procedures for having a contingency plan on ropeway operations to prevent the occurrence of any such incidents in the future. Worldwide, the ropeway industry is dominated by EU companies, which account for 90% of the industry worldwide,” Chatterjee said.
Many states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, etc have their own ropeway acts with different provisions making it difficult for the contractors to operate. When we are working towards Urban ropeway projects, we don’t have any regulation, which allows ropeways to fly over houses, how much gap should be there between cables, etc. There is a need for having a national level act to solve this problem, the government is working on it now,” Praphulla Chaudhari, MD, and CEO of Doppelmayr India Pvt Ltd said. Doppelmayr pioneers in ropeway projects across the world. Currently, the company has 50% share in the global ropeway market.“The environmental clearances and approval has become faster but as there is a great push for ropeways, the capacity building, in terms of manufacturing, trained manpower is still a problem,” Manoj Panwar, President, Ushabreco Ltd said. Since the thrust is on having last-mile connectivity, and decongesting cities, the only viable solution is ropeways. In India land acquisition and utility shifting are some of the key challenges,” he said.