Sunday, July 22, 2012

Police rope in rickshaw -pullers

Gaurav Sagar Bhaskar
22 July 2012

FEROZEPUR: In a first-of-its kind exercise, the state police have joined hands with rickshaw operators to provide them free road safety education and training.

In response to the request of Graduates' Welfare Association, Fazilka, (GWAF), the state additional director general of police (traffic) has asked all police commissioners and SSPs to impart free road safety education and training to all rickshaw operators and their unions.

"It's a welcome move by the state police," said GWAF secretary general Navdeep Asija. The inclusion of people - who are at the bottom of the development pyramid but play important role as service providers and also safeguard environment - in the road safety programme would help bridge the gap between common man and governance, he added.Initially, Project Ecocabs was designed for the welfare of rickshaw pullers and to improve overall quality of cycle rickshaw service in Fazilka. The project is operational since June 20, 2008.

On April 28, 2010, the high court took suo motu notice of media reports on 'Fazilka Ecocab' and directed Punjab, Haryana governments and Chandigarh administration to implement the same concept across the two states and UT. On HC directions, the project was being made operational in more than 22 cities of Punjab.
There were about three lakh cycles rickshaws operational in various cities and towns of Punjab. Every day, each rickshaw saves approximately 3 litre of fuel and 45.6 kg of fresh air, which is required to burn that fuel. Besides providing safeguard from pollution/exhaust gases, rickshaws generate jobs.

"Cycle rickshaw operations in Punjab save about 9 lakh litre of fuel and 1.37 crore kg of fresh air per day. It also provides direct and indirect employment to more than 3.5 lakh poor families across the state. Cycle rickshaws cover almost 90 lakh km and transport more than 60 lakh passengers every day," said Asija.
With number of motor vehicles increasing on Indian roads, road safety had also become a major cause concern. About 5.5 crore commuter trips are undertaken in Punjab every day, 60 lakh trips of which are solely being covered by cycle rickshaws.
The Punjab road crash data for 2010 indicates that among three lakh rickshaws, only two fatal accidents were reported. In both cases, rickshaws were at the receiving end. On the other hand, five lakh cars were responsible for more than 1,500 fatalities. The comparison shows that cycle rickshaws have emerged as a most sustainable mode of transportation in the state as well the country.
"It's the need of the hour to have 'Vision Zero', which implies that no death on roads," said GWAF patron Bhupinder Singh. To achieve this goal, the help of the state traffic police was sought because it keep on organising traffic awareness programmes, he said.

Hindustan Times. Page 2, Chandigarh Edition.

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