There are an estimated one million cycle rickshaws plying on the roads of India. Besides being environmentally-friendly, they provide employment to about 700,000 people, not to mention the millions of people they provide transport. However, there has not been much efforts to change its design to make it easier for the rickshawpuller. Now Nimbkar Research Agricultural Institute (NARI), Phaltan, Maharashtra, has developed three types of rickshaws: an improved pedal-cycle rickshaw, a motor-assisted pedal rickshaw (MAPR) and a battery-driven rickshaw called Elecsha.
The Elecsha has logged more than 4,500 km in test runs and the MAPR has logged about 1,000 km. "The institute plans to introduce these rickshaws in Lucknow and Pune. The Elecsha has a speed limit of 25-30 km/hr and with reduced fares -- due to the low running cost of Elecsha -- it is also economically viable," says A Rajvanshi, director, NARI. The Elecsha uses 60 per cent less energy than the petrol auto, says Rajvanshi.