On today’s (11/08/2016) Times of India, a shocking news appeared on the first page, titled ‘Sweltering Shahjahanpur gets a Snowplough’. The story says that the municipality of Shahjahanpur town has bought a Snowplough machine! Like most of India, Shahjahanpur never gets a snowfall, and the story mentions that temperature of 45° Celsius & above is routine during summer in the town. So a snowplough bought by municipality of such a town looks like one of those blatant corruptions that we regularly see in various levels of administration in India. They published a photo of the snowplough with the story, and informed that it is a JCB 170, that model number can be seen on the vehicle in the photo also.
After seeing the photo, two things immediately struck my mind. The vehicle does not look like a Snowplough, and the machine looked like those Bobcat Skid Steer Loaders that Guwahati Municipal Corporation here is using to clear garbage and mud from ground and load onto trucks. So I Googled for JCB 170 and found yes, it is indeed a Skid Steer Loader, not a Snowplough!
Lets explain both the machines a bit. Snowploughs are used to clear snows from ground. They come in various sizes, from small ones for home lawns to gigantic ones for clearing hundreds of kilometres of highways. Although most of us have not seen these in India, we have seen these in action on movies and TV.
On the other hand, Skid Steer Loaders are the smallest of such machines. The Bobcat loaders I have seen are smaller than a Tata Nano. They are used to clear things from ground and load onto trucks. They don’t have a conventional steering mechanism, their wheels on both sides are independently attached to transmission, and they turn by varying the speed of wheels on either side, much like tanks & other vehicles on tracked wheels do. Hence the name Skid Steer Loader, their wheels skid on the ground to steer. Due to this, they have zero turning radius, which allows them to work efficiently in narrow lanes and confined places. They have a very rigid construction, making them very reliable. Originally made by two American brothers for use in farms who later founded the Bobcat Company, this machine is now also used across the world to clean roads & other urban areas. Their small size, extreme maneuverability, and unique broom design make them ideal for collecting garbage and mud and loading them onto trucks.
So, while Shahjahanpur nagar palika may have purchased a machine which will help them in keeping the town clean, it is a bizarre that Times of India mistook the machine as Snowplough and published the story on front page, alleging potential corruption.