Electric rickshaws have gained popularity in several cities of India since 2008 as an alternative to auto rickshaws and pulled rickshaws which occupy our cities in droves.
However much we complain about them, without auto rickshaws, a town like Dimapur comes to a standstill. And despite the initial steps towards improving public transport in the town, they remain an indispensable part of what makes the town function.
Considering the number of auto rickshaws plying the roads these days, the effect it has on an already calamitous environmental scenario is bound to be massive. The time is upon us as communities to make clear all effecting choices to address the harsh realities of environmental degradation and change accepted norms of daily lives.
And auto rickshaws being a constant part of urban reality is one area where such choices can be affected.
Last week, it was announced that Lim Youth Empowerment in collaboration with M/s Kuvu Enterprise will be introducing ‘Go Green’, e-rickshaws in Dimapur, with the official launch scheduled on September 6. The e-rickshaws will be distributed to interested unemployed Naga youths at a minimum registration fee of Rs 5000 along with basic formalities.
The Regional Transport Authority (RTA), Dimapur has approved the e-rickshaws to commute from City tower to DC court junction. The charge of the ride is fixed at Rs 10 per passenger.
These battery-operated vehicles are an excellent alternative to petrol/diesel/CNG-driven vehicles, which cause severe pollution. They do not emit smoke and hence are non-polluting; while also cutting down severely on noise pollution.
Economically, examples from other cities where e-rickshaws have been implemented shows that passengers also benefit as they have to pay less transport charges. As far as livelihood and business is concerned, it is reported that e-rickshaws have given the means of livelihood to over 1 lakh people in Delhi. Also, initially these were imported from China. Today, the entire e-rickshaw, along with the body, handle and batteries are manufactured in India, leading to the growth of an entire small-scale industry.
However it is also pertinent to note that the eco-friendly vehicles do have some downsides. First of all, they are usually very slow in speed, and not a preferred mode of transportation in times of urgency.
They are also comparatively lighter in weight than their fuel guzzling counterparts, and hence cannot cope with larger weight. And with auto drivers here having no regard for prescribed safety regulations, rides are bound to be hazardous.
In addition, the haziness of proper regulations and guidelines for e-rickshaws and most importantly, lack of convenient technical support and charging facilities are other causes of major concern.
Despite this, the move to bring e-rickshaws to Dimapur must be appreciated. For it to succeed requires a whole support structure though. Stakeholders should work towards ensuring that e-rickshaws are properly regulated; provided with support infrastructure; accepted by their counterparts in the auto rickshaw drivers’ community; and ultimately complemented with more eco friendly modes of public transport.
Perhaps most importantly, each individual should make conscious choices to avail these facilities.
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