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Modern rickshaws hit Patna streets

Cycle rickshaws with seat belts, first aid kits and music are seen traversing the city roads, reports Ruchir Kumar.
None | By Ruchir Kumar, Patna
UPDATED ON JAN 27, 2007 10:25 PM IST

Heard of rickshaws with seat belt, first aid kit, lilting music, insurance cover for driver and passenger and much more? This futuristic rickshaw is no fantasy.

Nearly 100 such cycle rickshaws are seen traversing the city roads, after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar inaugurated the ‘Cycle Rickshaw project – Samman’ from Sheikhpura House in Patna.

The innovative project, conceived by Irfan Alam, a 25-year-old youth from Begusarai, who wore the Zee TV’s ‘Business Baazigar’ crown, is being supported by the State Government.

An MBA from Pondicherry, having done his management development programme from IIM-A, Irfan met Nitish when the latter visited the institute last November.

“Selling the concept to the man with a vision was not difficult. The CM promised us support and here we are,” said Irfan, while talking to HT.

Irfan, who is the founder and director of Samman Foundation, a New Delhi-based NGO, wants to take the environment-friendly cycle rickshaw to the luxury lane by providing facilities like soft drink, mineral water, newspaper and first aid in a rickshaw. The project, given the go-ahead even by Delhi Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit, is working fine in the New Capital Region (NCR).

Irfan is very passionate about his project. "We were in touch with IIT (Delhi & Guwahati), the National Innovative Foundation (Ahmedabad) and the Nimbkar Agriculture Research Institute (Phaltan, Maharashtra) to develop a new prototype of cycle-rickshaw, which could be converted into a modern mode of transport.

"What we settled for was a rickshaw with rear tyres of moped and front one of the conventional cycle rickshaw. Ride it and you will feel the difference," he added.

And what does he charge for the service from rickshaw pullers? "It's a nominal Rs 80 per week. With that we provide them free uniform, cap, shoes, personal ID card, minimum insurance cover of Rs 1 lakh and education of children."

The project not only aims at making life better for rickshaw pullers, but also making rickshaw a marketing engine and to convert a pathetic travel into joy ride.

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