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Indian innovator's amphibious vehicle gathers dust

Tuesday November 30, 2010 12:31:07 PM, Sanu George, IANS

Thiruvananthapuram: Three years ago a Kerala mechanic hit the headlines for creating an amphibious vehicle. But today he is a broken man, having invested all his savings in it. Even as the bank that gave him a loan is pressing for its dues, he rues no one has offered to take the project to the production stage.

P.S. Vinod, 33, studied air-conditioning and refrigeration. But he wanted to do much more and started out on the quest to make the amphibious vehicle - using an old Maruti car - in 2003.

"I took a loan of Rs.2.5 lakh from a public sector bank to buy three small cars and an outboard engine. In 2005, the vehicle was ready, but when I took it into the water, it sank. The next year, the trial run was satisfactory, but the vehicle lacked speed. It was finally in 2007 that my trial run in a lake here turned out to be a perfect success," Vinod told IANS.

To secure a loan for his pioneering invention, he pledged his one cent (435.6 sq ft) of land and a small house here, thus investing all his savings in the project.

But Vinod soon learnt the harsh realities of striving to make one's dream come true.

"The bank people are after me and I had to move out of my small home, which I have given for rent. I collected Rs.50,000 as rent deposit and paid the bank. Now me, my wife and our three-month-old daughter live in a small rented home," said Vinod.

He makes a living by running a small workshop, but takes solace in his work, proudly displaying the amphibious vehicle.

"Since 2007, I have even taken it out in the sea and driven 10 km, then on the backwaters in Kollam and on a lake near my home. I have proved its capabilities," he said.

The vehicle has two engines, with the front engine running it on road, and the 9.9 bhp Suzuki outboard engine propelling it on water.

"But I have been left high and dry because every time I have to test it on water, I have to get a licence from the fire department, Coast Guard, police and even the ports department," he said.

Vinod is crestfallen when he sees his dream vehicle dumped at a corner near his home.

"I have not taken a single paisa from anyone to display my invention. I have invested my time, effort and money but am really disappointed that despite being the first of its kind in the country, I never got any support from anyone. I know that since I am a poor person, I will not get any support to take my invention forward," he said.

There has been a spurt in the development of amphibious vehicles in the recent past, with some places like Dubai even having amphibious buses.

"I am under heavy pressure because the bank is after me and now my only wish is that I am able to hand over the technology to someone, especially any engineering college in the state. I don't need any money but I wish that someone comes forward and this can be taken forward to a production stage," added Vinod.

"I have another project, an underwater vehicle, but I think it will remain a dream," Vinod said, wiser from his experience.

(Sanu George can be contacted at







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