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Army looks to real-life Phunsukh Wangdu to solve one of its most vexing border problems

The Army has shown interest in pre-fabricated solar heated mud huts which engineer-turned-innovator Sonam Wangchuk has developed.

The huts are eco-friendly and would not require massive heating during winters in Ladakh, Wangchuk’s home, which is one of the coldest mountain deserts in the world.

Wangchuk, on whose life the character Amir Khan played in ‘Three Idiots’ was based, said that a prototype has been successfully built and the Army was interested in at least 10, 000 such structures.

Talking on the sidelines of a J&K government function in Srinagar on Monday, Wangchu said he plans to set up a plant in Ladakh. “Solar passive structures are not new.

However, these are movable, prefabricated and can be assembled on the spot and give solutions to meet the Army’s shelter requirements. The cost of heating will be zero. Even if the temperature outside is minus 20 degrees Celsius, it will be 20 degrees Celsius inside the hut, without any heating.

This is going to get rid of all the pollution caused by the massive amounts of oil the Army consumes to keep the jawans warm,” Wangchuk told ET.

“We are doing several more prototypes. It will be scaled up. I don’t think the Army has formulated a policy, but they have shown keen interest and are paying for the prototypes,” he said. Army would pay Wangchuk for construction of all prototypes. The plant in Ladakh will be under the Alternative Mountain University, which Wangchuk is in the process of establishing. “Materials will be fabricated in the plant for a whole year and assembled on the spot in summer when the weather is fine. One hut will take just two weeks to be set up,” he said.

The Chinese too have made inquiries about such structures, said Wangchuk. “This can be used in Tibet and different parts of central Asia. We have to wake up to challenges of climate changes,” he said.

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