Why does this Indian flag keep tearing?

By TS Sudhir

  • Published
An Indian Tricolour flag flutters on an 83 metre (272.31 feet) flagpole after being unfurled during a ceremony to mark the Second Telangana State Formation Day at Sanjeevaiah Park on the banks of the Hussainsagar Lake in Hyderabad on June 2,Image source, AFP
Image caption,
The 291-ft-high flag (88m) was unveiled on 2 June

It has been an ordeal to keep one of India's tallest national flags flying in the southern city of Hyderabad.

The 291-foot (88m) flag - India's second tallest - was unveiled on 2 June to mark the second anniversary of Telangana, India's 29th state.

But the tricolour flag has already been damaged by winds three times, and has had to be replaced by new ones.

India's laws say a damaged flag cannot be flown and can be hoisted again after repairs.

The flag, which cost 18m rupees ($265,064; £200,000) to put up, has been installed near the 455-year-old picturesque Hussainsagar lake.

The flag is made of polyester, but experts say the fabric lacks strength to cope with wind speeds reaching 140km/h (85 mph) near the lake.

"These large flags always give problems. We had initially procured five flags but realising the frequency with which they have to be changed, we have ordered for five more to be delivered immediately," said Ganapati Reddy, an engineer with the government's roads and buildings department.

Each new flag would cost the exchequer 115,000 rupees, he added.

New fabric

Authorities are now toying with the idea of using pochampally, a fabric native to Telangana, to make a new flag which would be able to withstand the wind pressure better than polyester.

However, the new fabric is likely to add to the weight of the 65kg flag.

The Telangana government also wants to find out about the material used in the world's tallest flag (560 foot) in Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia, where the flag itself weighs 570kg.

Experts say many national flags are being damaged by winds in India. They say flags need to be durable for extreme weather conditions without being too heavy.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
The tricolour flag has already been ripped apart by winds thrice

The chief of the Flag Foundation of India, KV Singh, said a 207-foot national flag in the capital, Delhi, tore 11 times in May and June.

"This despite the Delhi flag being a smaller flag than the one in Hyderabad. So damage is normal when the flag is high," says Mr Singh.

India's tallest national flag - 293 foot - was hoisted in the eastern city of Ranchi in January.

However, India's Border Security Force (BSF) plans to install India's tallest flag - 350 foot - at the Wagah border with Pakistan in Punjab by January next year.

"We had suggested to hoist a smaller flag to avoid frequent damage but the aim is to ensure that the Indian flag is visible from Lahore in Pakistan," Mr Singh said.