The postal department on Friday agreed to start a pilot trial of battery-operated cycle rickshaws in Rajasthan to ease the burden of postmen who cycle for hours to deliver mails and parcels.
Initially, 10 rickshaws with solar panels will be tried on a pilot basis, probably in Dausa. “Depending on the trial results, we may use these vehicles more in the postal department,” said Sachin Pilot, Minister of State for Communication and IT. The green postal delivery vans are an offshoot of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research’s ‘soleckshaw’ — solar-powered cycle rickshaw for ferrying human — that reduces the hardship faced by human rickshaw pullers.
CSIR has transferred the technology to Kinetic Motors, which will manufacture the vans in its Ahmednagar factory. “Each rickshaw will cost Rs 25,000. In addition, there has to be a charging station where the batteries can be rechar-ged,” said Sulajja Firodia Motwani, MD of Kinetic Motors.
Though the cost is on the higher side, it will eventually come down as the subsidy provided by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy will be used. The Department of Post will get carbon credit, assuming it has to replace the cycles with diesel vehicles, CSIR director-general Samir K Brahmachari told Deccan Herald.
The rickshaws have batteries which power a 20-ampere motor — good enough to travel 50 km every day. When the batteries are fully charged, the van will be a motorised one. If the battery is exhausted, then the delivery men has the additional option of pedalling it to the destination.
The battery can be recharged by solar or electrical energy at charging stations. Overnight charging (4-5 hours) is sufficient to rejuvenate the battery.
The van weighs 100 kg and carry can 50 kg of material. With India having about 1,50,000 post offices and 4,00,000 postmen, the vehicle will have a ready market and users, if the user trial turns out to be a success.