Saturday, October 16, 2010

Eco-rickshaw hits holy city roads

G.S. Paul
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 15
Fifty-five-year-old Jasbir Singh, who has been plying a cycle-rickshaw for past two decades in Amritsar, finds the new eco-friendly rickshaw lighter to ply and easy to own in comparison to the conventional one.To promote this modified rickshaw in the city, the Amritsar administration has given its nod to carry advertisement panels on its, a special loan pattern and an accidental insurance for  the operators.

Deputy Commissioner K.S. Pannu said the income generated through advertisements would go to the rickshaw-pullers. "It would be an additional income for the rickshaw-puller. Talks are on with a number of companies for giving advertisements," he said.

When Jasbir Singh was told about this offer, he was excited. "Now my dream to own a rickshaw is not far. Earlier I used to shell out between Rs 35 and Rs 45 per day as rent, but now I would have to pay back an instalment of Rs 500 per month. I will earn some extra money from the  advertisement panel," he  said. He has a family of four to support.

The district administration has tied up with certain banks to offer special easy loan. The aspirants for this vehicle would have to furnish cross guarantee formality to  avail loan.

"The rickshaw would cost about Rs 9,000. We have tied up with Punjab National Bank and the Oriental Bank of Commerce which have offered to extend loans at 4 per cent rate of interest. We have received more than 50 applications. Presently we have been getting it manufactured from a Delhi-based company but seeing its popularity, six local cycle-rickshaw manufacturers have offered to make an improved version of the eco-rickshaw. The market competition would force its rate to come down," Pannu said.

In another first move, the administration has proposed to introduce an accidental insurance scheme for the eco-rickshaw pullers wherein they would have to pay an annual premium of just Rs 50 to be the beneficiary of an assured amount of Rs 1 lakh, to be claimed by his kin in the case of accidental death of  the bearer.

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