E-rickshaw trials have begun in Matheran where most of the internal commuting is done on either horseback, hand-pulled rickshaws or on foot.
The Supreme Court had, in May, given a nod for e-rickshaws in Matheran which eventually paved way for the three-month trial. However, locals and tourists are not happy with the development.
A report in the Mid-day quoted some residents of Matheran expressing their concern over the popular hill station losing its unique character that non-plying of vehicles internally lent.
Maria Vaz, owner and manager of one of the oldest hotel in Matheran, Hope Hall Hotel, was quoted as saying that Matheran is an eco-sensitive zone; she said e-vehicles will be charged with electricity supplied through burning of fossil fuels and pointed out that disposal of batteries are an environmental risk. She also raised an issue with powercuts in the hill station.
She also pointed out that it also endangers livelihoods of the rickshaw pullers and ghodawallahs.
She also wrote to Tanmay Kumar (IAS) Jt. Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MOEFCC) explaining the same.
Adil Gandhy, a returning tourist of Matheran and Rohinton Mehta, co-author of a book, Matheran: A Mountaineering Manual, both echoed similar sentiments as Vaz and noted that the charm of the hill station is now lost.
Mehta further said that tourists already leave litter behind and now batteries used in e-vehicles will be disposed of in the valley.