Shimla, April 10
The first indigenous anti-hail gun, manufactured by IIT-Bombay in collaboration with the University of Horticulture and Forestry, Nauni, has been installed at a village near Jubbal in Shimla.
“The gun has been installed on a trial basis to check its efficacy against cloud formation and hailstorm,” said Shubham Chauhan, project research assistant, Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B).
“We will fire it regularly over the next two months whenever there is cloud formation or the possibility of hailstorm. We will collect the data and then see if any further improvement is required in the gun,” Chauhan said after setting up the gun today.
If the trial is successful, it will help apple growers escape the massive losses they suffer every year because of hailstorms. There are already a few imported anti-hail guns, but the indigenous gun has a couple of advantages over the imported ones.
“The first major advantage is its cost effectiveness. While the imported guns cost around Rs 1 crore, the indigenous one is likely to cost around Rs 15-20 lakh,” said Chauhan. “We are using LPG gas instead of acetylene gas for the gun, which is much cheaper. Also, LPG is readily available as compared to acetylene, which is another advantage of the indigenous gun,” he said.
Harish Chauhan, a local orchardist and president of the state’s Fruit, Vegetable and Flower Association, believes the successful trial and installation of the indigenous guns will be a shot in the arm for fruit growers and farmers.
“People are spending a lot on installing anti-hail nets and the process is cumbersome. Also, like the previous year, these nets damage the crop and trees in case of heavy hails,” said Chauhan. “If this trial is successful, there will be no need for people to use anti-hail nets. A single gun will provide the safety net to several villages without having to spend much,” he said.
For trying out these guns in various hail-prone areas in various districts, Harish said the state government had already sought financial assistance from the Centre.
Sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology, the gun had been in the making for the last four-five years. It was installed in KVK, Kandaghat, last year to assess the fuel-air ratio for maximizing the intensity of the shockwaves and pressure readings.
“With those experiments over, we have now installed the gun for real trials on clouds and hailstorms,” said the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay researcher.
Set up in Jubbal
The gun has been installed at a village near Jubbal in Shimla on a trial basis to check its efficacy against cloud formation and hailstorm. — Shubham Chauhan, project research assistant, IIT-Bombay.