Troops deployed in high-altitude and Naxal-affected areas are set to get designer footwear to protect them from 'anti-personnel' mines and frostbite.
Indigenous anti-mine and snow boots designed by Footwear Design and Development Institute are on user trial by the Indian army.
"The shoes made by FDDI along with other contenders are on user trial by the army and a decision in this regard is expected to be taken soon," said an army official requesting anonymity.
"The present anti-mine shoe used by the army comes from the Czech Republic. It weighs around 4 kilograms and is uncomfortable. The shoe made by us is lighter at 2.9 kgs and is on trial," says V B Parvatikar, Director (Technical) and the main architect of the shoes.
"The pressure in a mine blast is 45000kg/cm square. The anti-mine shoe's shock absorption brings it down to 160kg/cm square. So, now, a soldier's bones will get fractured in the worst cases where as earlier, they used to get powdered," he says.
The anti-mine boot has passed the blast test and is a contribution to human welfare with the objective to reduce soft-tissue, bone and vascular injuries to the foot and leg of victims involved in antipersonnel mine explosions.
Anti-mine boots are combat design boot for troops with direct moulded polyether PU sole with chrome tanned leather upper lined with foam and vegetable tanned nappa leather.
Army's Master General Ordnance is looking for snow shoes for defence personnel at snow hound areas, high altitudes with snow cladded mountains, varying and difficult terrains.
"Frost bite is a major worry at higher altitudes. The present shoes being used now come from Italy and Russia. The snow shoe made by us has longer life," says Parvatikar.
The outer shell of the snow boot is made of special plastic to withstand temperature from -60°C to 100°C. Its surface is highly scratch resistant and has high tear strength.
The outer sole is made of natural rubber for high skid resistance even at difficult terrains and in snow whereas the outer shell has been provided with special metallic (corrosion resistant) trims and flat laces for quick donning and doffing.
The inner shoe is made of leather, synthetic, textile and sample lining to provide snug fitting, warmth and comfort in higher altitudes.
While the life of the snow boot is longer, anti-mine shoe becomes useless after a mine blast.
"There are problems of supply as these shoes are imported at the moment and cost around 12,000 to 13,000 per pair. We have brought down the cost to 2,000 to 3,000," says Parvatikar.