In a high-powered meeting held recently, senior officers deliberated upon the issue and found that these "the so-called eco rickshaws are no different from ordinary rickshaws". This, despite the fact that the new rickshaws are not wood-intensive like the traditional ones, but are made of hollow steel pipes. As a result, while the traditional rickshaw weighs 90-95 kg, the new ones weigh only 65 kg approximately. Hence, the rickshaw puller has to strain less while pulling the rickshaw.
The committee decided that the municipal corporations and committees can facilitate the holding of workshops to study the aspect of weight. "The concept can be studied to find out as whether eco-rickshaws indeed require 30 per cent less force," noted the committee. It was also decided that if these facts were found to be right, the state could launch these light-weight rickshaws. The Panchkula deputy commissioner, who was present at the meeting, was asked to take initiative in the matter.
While these light-weight rickshaws have been launched in many cities of Punjab, Haryana is still dragging its feet on the matter. Last month, the high court had rapped the Haryana government for the delay in launching eco-cabs. Irked after Haryana did not file its response in the court with regard to the steps taken by it for the purpose, the court directed the director of the state urban bodies department to be present before the court on the next date of hearing in September. A division bench comprising Justices Surya Kant and Ajay Tewari had also observed that the state's response was not very serious towards the issue.
The high court's rap has led to some activity on the Haryana side. K K Jain, Executive Officer of Panchkula Municipal Corporation, said the district administration will soon organise a presentation on the new light-weight rickshaws. "We will invite members of the rickshaw pullers' union and traders who sell these rickshaws. We want them to understand how these rickshaws are different and also motivate them to ply these here," said Jain.
In March, the high court had asked Haryana government to consult Navdeep Asija, who had pioneered the eco-cab movement at Fazilka by launching them in the border city. Speaking to The Indian Express, Asija said: "Rickshaw operation itself is eco-friendly. The lesser weight of 30 kg weight is direct proof that this requires lesser traction force for the operator. Further strengthening and organising the industry is an environment-friendly move," he said.
Ravee Ahluwalia of The Patiala Foundation, an NGO which has introduced these rickshaws in the heritage city of Punjab, added that light-weight rickshaws are mutually beneficial for the puller, passengers and the environment.