Matheran to introduce e-rickshaws from Oct 15

Every year, around 10 lakh tourists visit Matheran, a hill station near Mumbai and Pune. Horses and hand-drawn rickshaws have been in use for local transport for decades.

Kamal MishraUpdated: Sunday, September 18, 2022, 09:51 PM IST
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Photo: File/ Representative Image

Matheran will introduce e-rickshaws from October 15, 2022, on a three-month experimental basis.

The Matheran Municipal Council will purchase seven vehicles approved by a monitoring committee to conduct the trial, in line with a Supreme Court directive.

The council is yet to finalise fares and other guidelines, but senior citizens and schoolchildren will be given preference to ride in the rickshaws.

Sunil Shinde, secretary of Matheran’s Shramik Rickshaw Sanghatana (Working Rickshaw-pullers’ Association), had filed a petition in the SC in 2019 seeking permission to allow e-rickshaws in the ecosensitive zone. In May 2022, the court directed the state to execute a three-month pilot project with a limited number of vehicles.

Thereafter, the Ministry of Environment and Forest formed a monitoring committee under the chairmanship of KP Baxi, a retired IAS officer.

Under the panel’s supervision, the municipal council tested five e-rickshaws from different companies on July 27, to judge the project’s feasibility. RTO and Pollution Control Board officials were present during the day-long trials.

“On Sep 13, the committee told us to go ahead and buy seven vehicles from a well-known manufacturer,” said Surekha Bhange, CEO of the municipal council.

“The Supreme Court has given permission to the state government to conduct a three-month pilot project. It is an historical decision. It will help hand-rickshaw pullers to live with respect and dignity. E-rickshaws will be helpful for students, senior citizens, women, the physically-challenged. They will also attract more tourists,” Shinde said.

Every year, around 10 lakh tourists visit Matheran, a hill station near Mumbai and Pune. Horses and hand-drawn rickshaws have been in use for local transport for decades. Dusty roads littered with horse dung, and uneven terrain, make it difficult for the rickshaw pullers to operate.

The Shramik Rickshaw Sanghatana had sought permission from the government to allow ecofriendly e-rickshaws to ply, since only ambulances and fire engines are allowed in Matheran. The SC had declared Matheran an ecosensitive zone in Feb 2003.

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