The better choice

Developed by an agricultural institute , electric rickshaws can combat auto pollution

Published: Saturday 15 February 1997

 Cheap changes can help cycle< cost effective, energy efficient and non-polluting electric cycle rickshaws invented by Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute (nari), Maharashtra, could substitute petrol-powered two-wheelers and three-wheelers. At present 18 million two wheelers and 1.5 million three wheelers pollute Indian cities, growing at a rate of 15 per cent per annum.

The existing cycle rickshaw is a major means of transport in some cities, providing employment to about 700,000 people. These rickshaws are environment-friendly but, unfortunately, deliberate policies have been made to replace these with the polluting three wheelers.

Moreover, no commendable change has been made in the rickshaw since its introduction in the '30s and '40s. It is poorly designed, needs improved gears, brakes, seat, aerodynamics and manufacturing quality to remove the degrading snags attached with those who pedal it.

The rickshaw designed by nari, replete with all these changes, is to cost Rs 5,000, just about Rs 500 more than the exist-ing rickshaw. To turn it electric, a one kw dc motor, lead acid batteries and an interface card have been installed. It is a truly renewable energy transport system as it will use electricity generated by renewable sources. Moreover, just one 125 mw power plant will electrify all existing rickshaws.

Motorised cycle rickshaws will give dignity and extra income to drivers as they can be plied to greater distances. Similarly, to replace two wheelers, companies around the globe, have developed electric bicycles, which can travel 30-40 km at a speed of 20-25 km/hr in one charge.

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