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Lack of recharging infra, resistance from unions dim e-rickshaw spark in Pune

So far, only 11 applications were received and granted permission by the transport office of Pune.

pune Updated: Jul 20, 2018 16:52 IST
Shalaka Shinde
Shalaka Shinde
Hindustan Times, Pune
pune,maharashtra,e rickshaws
A major drawback of the current e-rickshaw presence is that it is not fare-regulated, drawing ire from traditional rickshaw drivers(HT Photo)

Almost a year after the Pune regional transport office (RTO) finalised 14 routes for e-rickshaws, there are hardly any takers for these eco-friendly vehicles to ply on these stretches.

Multiple reasons have led to the cold response to the electric vehicles, according to BI Ajri, regional transport officer (RTO) of Pune. So far, only 11 applications were received and granted permission by the transport office of Pune.

According to RTO officials, various reasons have led to the lack in demand of the e-rickshaws like resistance from traditional rickshaw unions, lack of recharging infrastructure in the city and fare regulation.

In August 2017, the traffic police had permitted plying of e-rickshaws on 14 routes in the city.

The rickshaw union representative, Nitin Pawar, who works with Baba Adhav and his organisation, said, "The government cannot simply introduce 5,000 and 10,000 e-rickshaws out of the blue and expect the traditional rickshaw drivers to not resist. What else will they do if you affect their basic source of earning bread and butter? But if there is an integrated approach towards introducing public transport, we are ready to come to the table."

Besides resistance from the unions, lack of recharging infrastructure in the city and fare regulation has stopped the mode of transport from entering the market and making a level playing ground, RTO Ajri observed.

"It is definitely a better technology. We do not have horses as a mode of transport anymore because better technology took over and rickshaws came into use. We must change with times," said RTO Ajri.1"The changes will be drastic on two fronts - fuel and maintenance. The take-home amount for e-rickshaw drivers will go up effectively," RTO Ajri said.

However, a major drawback of the current e-rickshaw presence is that it is not fare-regulated, drawing ire from the traditional rickshaw drivers.“Plus, we also have the private cab aggregators (Ola and Uber) to worry about,” Pawar added.

While the increase in the number of routes may be the next best thing for a successful integration of e-rickshaws, the onus of doing so lies with the city traffic police.

First Published: Jul 20, 2018 16:42 IST