Rickshaws go on an energy saving mode

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Rickshaws go on an energy saving mode

For some time now, the Capital has been riding in comfort. Rickshaws fulfil an integral part of travel needs, especially in congested areas of old Delhi where not many prefer to drive a car. Introduced not so long back, battery rickshaws have grown in numbers and are giving the regular ones tough competition.

Introduced with an aim to promote environmental conservation in the Capital, these battery operated rickshaws are as good as any vehicle running on petrol, minus the pollution. Being eco-friendly and saving the effort of pedalling and pulling a regular rickshaw, the new ones have been well-received by commuters and rickshaw-pullers alike. “These new rickshaws have reduced our hard work as we no longer have to put in physical effort in pulling heavy loads. Since it saves my physical strength, I can now ferry more passengers throughout the day without getting tired,” exclaims Ramesh Yadav, a rickshaw puller in Chandni Chowk, who recently bought the new vehicle after surrendering his pedal rickshaw.

While the rent of the pedal rickshaws is Rs 50 per day, that for the battery ones is as high as Rs 400 a day. Hence the rickshaw-pullers prefer buying the battery-operated ones instead of paying a daily rent. They believe that the rickshaw cost of about Rs. 85,000 acts as a one-time investment. “Now that I have purchased it, I no longer have to worry about paying any rent,” adds Ramesh.

But not everyone can afford the purchase. “I do not have enough savings to buy new rickshaws. I have a family to look after and cannot spend so much in one go,” says Tahir Abbas, who drives the eco-friendly rickshaw on rental basis. Asked about his expenses, he promptly states, “My income and expenditure is almost the same now as these new rickshaws consume a lot of electricity, water (for battery) etc. One day when I will have enough money, I would surely buy this vehicle,” he quietly states.

But all is not well with the eco-friendly rickshaws either which can take as long as 12 hours to get fully recharged, after which they run for about eight hours at a stretch. “When I purchased it, I was told it would charged in six to seven hours, but it takes double that time. Time and again I have to get the stabiliser and battery serviced. These new ones are not fault-free and also add to the cost burden,” says a disappointed Ramesh.

Unaware of these glitches, the regular rickshaw pullers are an envious lot! Their work and income have been evidently affected as they now find fewer takers. “People now prefer the battery rickshaws because of the comfort. Even if we do get passengers, they are not willing to pay us appropriately if we ever demand higher rates following our physical efforts in this scorching heat,” shares an annoyed pedal rickshaw puller, Raju.

Commuters are probably the best beneficiaries. Apart from added comfort, the eco-friendly rickshaws are visually appealing to many. “When travel charges are same for both rickshaws, why not take the battery ones, which save the energy of the drivers as well. These new ones are fast and sturdy, giving total comfort,” reasons Ramesh Kumar, who has come from Himachal for his son’s admission in Delhi, but has been a regular traveller to the Capital. “The new rickshaws are spacious and easily accessible. In some places, they outnumber the pedal ones,” state Manoj, a businessman based in old Delhi.

 People are eager to board the battery rickshaws even as some find it totally pointless to wait for it to get full before the ride begins.

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