Mumbai: The final decision of introduction of e rickshaw service in Matheran may take few more months as the monitoring committee of Matheran has sought a one-year extension for trails of e-rikshaw.
Earlier, on February 24, the Supreme Court had directed the committee to submit its report regarding trials of e rickshaws in Matheran within eight weeks. The court will decide further course of action only after the committee submits its report.
Examination of operations during monsoon
According to sources, the committee wants to extend the trails of e - rikshaw for a year because it wants to examine the operation of e rickshaws in Matheran during the monsoon.
Earlier, Shramik Rickshaw Sanghatana secretary Sunil Shinde had filed a petition in the Supreme Court, seeking permission to start e-rickshaws in Matheran. Since British time, hand-pulled rickshaws and horses are used for internal transport. However, hand rickshaws are inhuman, adversely affect the health of pullers and are costly too. Hence the rickshaw union has urged the state govt to give permission for eco-friendly e-rickshaws. Following the request, the Supreme Court allowed a three months' trial which started in December 2022 and finished in the first week of March this year.
All e-rickshaws currently lying idle in the municipal council premises
After the trail, e-rickshaw service was discontinued. Currently all seven e-rickshaws which were purchased by the Matheran Municipal Council are lying idle in the municipal council premises.
On the other hand, Sthanik Ashwapal Sanghtana, an association of horse owners/riders have opposed the e-rickshaw service claiming it will affect their livelihood.
"The livelihood of about 4,500 people is completely dependent on tourism. There are 94 handcarts and pushcarts, 460 horses and 300 ponies (used for goods transportation) in the hill station to provide services. After the introduction of e-rickshaws, horse owners would lose their livelihood,” said a member of the horse owners association
Local residents want e-rickshaw services to continue
However local residents want e-rickshaw services to continue. “The pilot project was successful. We expect the monitoring committee to bring these facts to the notice of the Supreme Court and let the court take a final call,” said Shinde, adding that suggestion of another year of trials looks illogical.
“According to data provided by Matheran Municipal Council, total of 51,891 persons travelled by e-rickshaws during trails.
Shyam Kamble, a Matheran resident said, “Transport is the basic need of public, hence it needs to be continued.”
The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests through a notification on February 4, 2023 notified Matheran and surrounding region as the 'Matheran Eco-sensitive Zone. A monitoring committee was also constituted to ensure compliance with the provisions of the notification.