Mumbai: More than 250 local residents of Matheran organised a protest on March 17, demanding to restart e-rickshaw service in the hill station. They even handed over a request letter to tehsildar (revenue superintendent) and asked for resumption of the service which was initiated as a three-month pilot project in December 2022.
The service was shut on March 4, irking the locals who don't have other modes of transport to travel in the hill station's periphery.
Earlier, Shramik Rickshaw Sanghatana Secretary Sunil Shinde had filed a petition in the apex court asking to give the option of plying eco-friendly e-rickshaws to 94 hand rickshaw pullers. Since the British era, vehicles are not allowed in the town to keep it pollution free. Hence, horses and hand-pulled rickshaws are used as mode of transport. Such types of rickshaws are inhuman in practice hence they have been barred in other parts of the country. Unfortunately, they still exist in Matheran.
To give a fillip to the hill station's transport, e-rickshaw service was started as a pilot project in Matheran. “Pilot project has been conducted successfully, now we are waiting for further direction by the competent authority in this regard,” said the official of the Matheran municipal council.
“The pilot project, with seven e-rickshaws, was helpful for students, senior citizens, women and tourists, especially those who come to town late night. Since the taxi stand is 3 km away from town,” said a local resident.
Reasonably priced e-rickshaws were helpful
Another local Pratibha Ghawre said that e-rickshaws proved helpful for everyone as ₹35 fare is very reasonable. “They are very convenient especially for pregnant women, those carrying babies because walking 3-4 km is very tiring,” she said. High School Principal Kalpana Patil, too, found e-rickshaw very helpful as students of her school reach in just ₹5.
Petitioner Shinde pointed out that the monitoring committee – formed to look into the issue – has been empowered by the Supreme Court to make decisions. “Locals want the Matheran Municipal council should make a decision quickly and allow e-rickshaw service,” he added.
When contacted, Tehsildar Dikshant Deshpande said, “We already forwarded the request of local residents to the district magistrate who is also a member of the monitoring committe
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