According to reports, five soleckshaws – a solar-powered vehicle that also allows the rider to pedal – were distributed among rickshaw pullers here on Sunday to mark the launch of the vehicle in the city.
Developed and manufactured by Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute in Durgapur, the zero-carbon-emitting vehicle, uses both the mechanical energy and electrical energy achieving a maximum speed of 18 kilometres per hour.
During the day, five soleckshaws were presented to rickshaw pullers at the Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute (CGCRI) free of cost.
There are about 6,000 hand-pulled rickshaws on the streets of Kolkata. A controversial decision taken by the previous Left Front government to ban the “colonial practice” of one man pulling another has not yet been fully implemented and they can still be seen on the streets of the city.
“Certainly, it can be used to replace the hand-pulled rickshaw,” said State Minister for Power and Planning and Development Manish Gupta, when asked if these solar-operated vehicles may replace the older varieties.
The soleckshaws have so far been introduced in Gurgaon and Rajasthan where they have met with initial success.
Dr. Indranil Manna, the director of Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute (CGCRI) said that the price of the rickshaw at present is Rs. 25,000 but it will significantly come down as its production and demand increases.
“It can be helpful in the lanes and by-lanes of Kolkata,” said director-general of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research Dr. Samir Kumar Brahmachari.
The initiative to manufacture these solar-powered rickshaws has been taken by the Central Government agency under the initiative CSIR-800. The aim of the scheme is to utilise the fruits of cutting-edge science for the benefit of the 800 million Indians who are at the bottom of the pyramid, Dr. Brahmachari added.
The licence for the vehicle is given out at a cost of Rs. 100 only, he added.