Unleashing the ropeways

Source: This post is based on the article “Unleashing the ropeways” published in Business Standard on 6th Jul 22.

Syllabus: GS2 – Govt policies and interventions

Relevance: Govt’s vision of Ropeways as transportation solutions

News: Union Finance minister made a pointed reference in her Budget speech about ropeways, not merely as tourist attractions, but also as transportation solutions.

It is noteworthy that the government’s vision of “ropeways as transportation solutions” covers congested urban areas and river-crossings too.

What did Union Finance Minister say about ropeways in her budget speech?

The minister stated that –

Parvatmala, or the National Ropeways Development Programme, is a preferred ecologically sustainable alternative to conventional roads in difficult hilly areas.

It will be taken up in PPP (public-private partnership) mode. The aim is to improve connectivity and convenience for commuters, besides promoting tourism.

This may also cover congested urban areas, where a conventional mass transit system is not feasible. Contracts for eight ropeway projects for a length of 60 km will be awarded in 2022-23.

What are examples of some ropeway projects across the globe?


On urban connectivity, getting acclaim internationally is Colombia’s largest public works project — the new mass transit cable car service in the capital city of Bogota.

It connects high points of two of the city’s low-income neighbourhoods. It is able to transport 3,600 passengers per hour and benefits 700,000 residents who are now able to make a trip in 10 minutes that earlier took 60-90 minutes.


India has its iconic project across the Brahmaputra river. In the summer of 2020, a 1.8 km ropeway was commissioned, making it the longest river ropeway in the country.

Thousands of people commute every day between Guwahati and North Guwahati. The ropeway enables travel in 10 minutes — a journey that otherwise takes 45 minutes by ferry, or over an hour by road.

What are different types of ropeways?

Passenger ropeways are classified according to their operational characteristics. The more common forms are aerial tramways, gondolas, funiculars, and chair lifts.

Advantages of ropeways

As a transportation alternative, they present clear advantages, with reference to specific terrains.

a) lower land acquisition costs, b) environmentally friendly and c) contrary to popular belief, can handle volumes. A robust ropeway can carry up to 10,000 passengers an hour — the equivalent of 200 busloads, d) Ropeways can handle steep gradients, e) Optimal use of land – In urban settings, ropeways need only narrow-based vertical supports at intervals. This leaves the rest of the ground free.

Which ministry has been tasked with dev of ropeways?

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has been made responsible for the development of ropeways and alternative mobility solutions.

It thus now has the responsibility for crafting a regulatory regime for the sector, including issues related to choice of technology, safety and operational guidelines.

Within MoRTH, an in-house subsidiary, the National Highways Logistics Management Ltd (NHLML), has been assigned to undertake all the work related to the development of ropeways.

How the safety issues are being handled?

The Union home ministry issued an advisory to all states in April in the wake of a ropeway accident that happened in Deoghar district of Jharkhand.

The ministry has stressed the need to have detailed standard operating procedures and a contingency plan on ropeway operations to prevent the occurrence of any such incidents in future.

Internationally, the ropeways industry is dominated by EU companies, which account for 90% of the industry worldwide. The EU has specific safety legislation in place.

Way forward

It is expected that with an emphasis on “Atmanirbharta”, India’s existing ropeway manufacturers and developers will now get an opportunity to scale up and emerge as key players in a global context.

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