One of the rickshaw pullers, Suresh Kumar, in the IIT-Delhi campus area has been manually pedaling passengers since 2002. But due to recent developments, solar-powered rickshaws have made the tasks of such workers a lot less burdensome.
Central Electronics Limited (CEL), a central government enterprise, has taken the initiative to distribute ten such solar-powered vehicles to rickshaw-pullers under a corporate social responsibility to be plied on the campus area.
CEL has designed and manufactured 300-watt solar panels to be specifically used as roofs of these vehicles.
“These panels self-charge throughout daytime and can effectively double the distance manually pulled rickshaws can cover in a day. Not only will this reduce the physical effort of the rickshaw pullers but will also help them earn more than they used to,” said a CEL official to The Times of India.
IIT director Ram Gopal Rao has interpreted the project a robust concoction of technology, tradition, and empathy coming together for a social cause.
As he said: “This innovation combines traditional knowledge and modern technology to create harmony among the environment, employment, and convenience.”
Though people used to feel bad about the toil of rickshaw-pullers ‘our point was if you ask them to stop, what will happen to their livelihoods?’ Ram added as he acknowledged the feat as a good beginning.
“The solar hybrid system supports the rickshaw-pullers during acceleration and tough rides, making the job humane,” said Dr Amod Kumar of Sukoon Solutions, who are the makers of the vehicles.
Additionally, he said that these rickshaws can only ply inside the campus area as they cannot be licensed under the motor vehicles act of India.
“Earlier we tried plying 150 of these in Sahibabad of Ghaziabad but police used to challan them. We hope to see a policy change after this move,” Amod further stated.
With the rickshaw pullers content over the initiative, some have expressed their joy by saying that these solar-powered vehicles will reduce manual labor – the toughest part of their job.
As per information from the manufacturers, imported motors from China will let the vehicles speed up to 25 km per hour, while these vehicles now run at an ideal speed of 10-15 km per hour.
An e-rickshaw costs around Rs 1.25 lac whereas a hybrid rickshaw is priced at Rs 68,000, making the vehicles cost comparatively less.