[sustran] With Ecocab, Fazilka shows the way

Asija, Navdeep navdeep.asija at gmail.com
Wed Oct 13 02:32:35 JST 2010

*Ecocabs are cyclerickshaws that are only a phone call away*

  Urban planners in Europe and the US may hail rickshaws as an efficient,
non-polluting way to move around, but the Indian elite has always looked
down upon them. The humble rickshaw now has a reason to cheer. Fazilka’s
‘Ecocab’ project, which will celebrate its second anniversary in June, is
making planners across the country sit up and take notice.

 Fazilka has four call centres, one in each part of the city, where
residents can telephone to call a rickshaw home. Executives in the Delhi
Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS) want to implement this dial-in
model for users of their BRT corridor buses. The Jaipur-based Kuhad Trust,
which helps rickshaw-pullers own their rickshaws through a zero-interest
scheme, wants to replicate the project in the Pink City, while the Punjab
Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board is also looking at the feasibility of
adopting this model for tourists in Amritsar.

 The ‘Ecocab’ project, put in place by the Graduates Welfare Association of
Fazilka (GWAF), is now being hailed as a pioneering initiative in the
country. Dr Anvita Arora, CEO of Innovative Transport Solutions, an
incubatee company of IIT-Delhi, says: “At the Urban Mobility Conference
organised by the Ministry of Urban Development in December 2009, the project
received much appreciation from national and international delegates.” Dr
Arora, who is working on sustainable transport in various cities, is a
visiting faculty member of the urban design department of School of Planning
and Architecture (SPA), New Delhi.

 It was on her suggestion that Kirti Dikshit, now working as an industrial
designer in a design firm at Delhi, did her master’s thesis on the ‘Ecocab’
project as part of her M.Arch course at SPA. And ‘Carbusters’, the journal
of the World Carfree Network, has carried a detailed article on the
‘dial-a-rickshaw’ facility.

 Anil Sethi, president of Fazilka Municipal Council, says the project has
decongested the main markets, leading to better business for traders and
convenience for residents. “Our cities are getting so polluted and congested
that projects like the Ecocab have become imperative. The 500-odd rickshaw
pullers benefiting with an additional income means the project is a boon for
as many families,” he asserts.

 GWAF secretary Navdeep Asija adds: “BSNL is giving us seven lines. While we
will have five fixed call centres, two phones will be placed at strategic
points in markets with a tea stall owner or some other small vendor.”

 GWAF has provided digital identity cards to the ‘traction men’, as Asija
calls them. The cards have the entire socio-economic data of each rickshaw
puller, along with his address and family profile, blood group and household
income. It has also given an insurance cover of Rs 50,000 each to the
rickshaw pullers, and made provision for their free medical check-up and
treatment at established clinics in the city.

 Says Jaspal Singh, Deputy Manager, DIMTS: “We are considering the viability
of using call-in rickshaws as a feeder route for the BRT corridor. It’s a
people-friendly initiative, because our users face a problem coming to the
bus stand from their homes.”

 Punjab’s Principal Secretary, Tourism, Geetika Kalha has asked GWAF to
prepare a feasibility report on using the model in Amritsar. “Our Tourist
Information Centre can be the hub, and we can develop package tours for
tourists to use dial-in rickshaws for visiting the Golden Temple, the
Durgiana Temple and the Jallianwala Bagh. The model can be brilliant for
congested cities like Amritsar,” she says.

 Harshit Kaushik, project manager for the Kuhad Trust at Jaipur, says the
NGO is looking at the possibility of adopting the scheme in the Rajasthan

   *The ‘Fazilka Nano’*

 THE Graduates Welfare Association of Fazilka (GWAF) had asked Kirti
Dikshit, a student of School of Planning and Architecture, to design a
lighter rickshaw. The Fazilka Nano, as association members call it, was
launched at the Fazilka Heritage Festival on April 4. It weighs 55 kg, as
compared to a traditional rickshaw which weighs approximately 85 kg. Kirti
has used hollow iron pipes to increase its strength and ensure greater
durability. A traditional rickshaw uses much wood. Various other changes
have been made keeping in mind the comfort of the rickshaw puller and the
passengers. Rickshaw pullers have responded well to the new model, and more
changes are being made in line with the feedback given by them. “Once we are
satisfied with the prototype in all respects, we will train a local
manufacturer to make them for us,” says GWAF secretary Navdeep Asija.


‘Ecocab can become viable and eco-friendly means of transport’
*Chandigarh* *Hight Court makes IE report on Ecocab a PIL, sends notices to
Punjab govt*

Taking cognisance of a news item, “With Ecocab, Fazilka shows the way”,
which appeared in The
on April 26, Punjab and Haryana High Court Chief Justice Mukul Mudgal has
converted it into a public interest litigation (PIL).

Taking suo motu notice of the news item, the chief justice held: “If the
facts appearing in the report are correct, the matter deserves to be looked
into in this court’s PIL jurisdiction.”

The order said: “With its (cycle-rickshaws’) transformation into Ecocab, it
is on the way to become a viable and eco-friendly means of transport for
all. It will be available on a phone call, to be made to Ecocab booths. The
initiative is praiseworthy. Various organisations are said to be taking
interest in the project. Ecocab has the potential to replace carbon dioxide
emitting cars and other motor vehicles.”

A division bench comprising the chief justice and Justice Jasbir Singh has
issued notices to the Punjab government.

The news item highlighted the role of School of Planning and Architecture (
New Delhi, at the asking of Graduates’ Welfare Association of Fazilka (GWAF)
in designing a lighter cycle-rickshaw named as Ecocab. The Fazilka Nano, as
the model is named by a member of the GWAF, was launched on April 4 on the
occasion of Fazilka Heritage Festival. Not only lighter in weight than the
traditional rickshaw, it has been designed to give a comfortable ride to
people travelling short distances in towns and cities, the report had noted.


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