This the VOA Special English Development Report.
a bicycle with a two-wheeled carriage in place of a back tire. India has millions
of these cycle rickshaws. The operators are called pullers. They ride through
the streets pulling passengers and goods. Unlike auto rickshaws, which burn
fuel, cycle rickshaws produce no pollution. But the job of a rickshaw puller is
Now, to help ease their labor, there is
the Solar-Electric Rickshaw, or Soleckshaw. This is the product of work of
several scientific, industrial and environmental agencies.
An electric motor helps the
operator pull a heavy load or go up a hill. A thirty-six volt battery can carry
the rickshaw forty kilometers. Top speed is fifteen kilometers an hour, and the
Soleckshaw does not pollute. The project includes a battery charging station at
a Delhi Metro Rail Station.
of the Soleckshaw was launched in Delhi in October. The nonprofit Center for
Rural Development is supervising the project.
The goal with the new
rickshaw is to increase the number of trips per day that the pullers can make. There
is also space for advertising, a way for them to earn additional money.
The designers suggest that rickshaw
pullers could repay a loan to buy a Soleckshaw within about two or three years.
They could borrow the money from the Rickshaw Bank.
India's seven to eight million pullers
usually pay one-third of their earnings to the owner of a rickshaw to use it by
the day. But in two thousand four the Center for Rural Development had the idea
for a bank to help self-employed workers buy their own rickshaws.
are plans for improved versions of the Soleckshaw, and to use them when New
Delhi hosts the Commonwealth Games next year.
Prakash writes about environmental policy. She wrote at ecowordly.com that
Soleckshaws are a great step forward. But she says several important issues and
questions are getting lost in all the excitement.
She suggests that pullers might not be
able to earn enough to pay back a loan for the current high cost of a
Soleckshaw. The price is four hundred forty dollars compared to one hundred
seventy, or less, for a traditional cycle rickshaw.
how, she asks, will they handle additional costs such as electric charging, batteries
and solar panels? Vandana Prakash says the dream of creating "proud owners"
needs greater planning and market research.
And that's the VOA Special English Development
Report. It was written by Jerilyn Watson.
Correction: A Web site was listed incorrectly in this report. The site is ecoworldly.com, not ecowordly.com.