Campus Central

The E-Rickshaw Phenomenon in North Campus

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It’s impossible for me to escape the hordes of e-rickshaw waalas when I exit the Vishwavidyalaya metro station for I need to reach the cycle rickshaw of Chun Chun , who I struck an acquaintance with a few months back, for he is always stationed outside my college. Chun Chun, who hails from Bihar and lives in the Majnu-ka-Tila area has a perpetually animated way of doing almost everything, from riding the rickshaw to engaging in political discussions with me. His animation always beats my cogent arguments.

Of late, he’s been discussing how the e-rickshaw waalas have taken over the city by targeting specific areas with the largest concentration of short distance travellers (including the north campus), thus affecting the livelihoods of cycle rickshaw waalas like him.

The e-rickshaw community has grown from 4,000 in 2010 to more than 1,20,000 in 2016 in the city. As per a research by the Centre for Civil Society (CCS), 37% of the drivers were either unemployed before taking up the occupation or were cycle rickshaw pullers. Around 21% were either factory workers or daily wage labourers.

The concept was e-rickshaws was initially started in China, which is the largest e-rickshaw manufacturer in the world. In April 2015, Hero Electric became the first domestic company in India to launch the vehicle at Rs 1.10 lakh and named its model ‘Raahii’. Most of the rickshaws that ply on North Campus roads are Raahiis, which can travel up to 90 km on a single charge and also have inbuilt accessories for the drivers, like USB mobile charging system and electronic lock system. The batteries of the rickshaws have a life of about six months and new ones can be had for 25,000.

The drivers in the area have average net earnings of 550-800 rupees per day, which is more than that of cycle rickshaw waalas – Rs 300-450, and is slightly less than that of autorickshaw drivers – Rs 700-1000 (CCS). More than 89% of the people who took the job as e-rickshaw drivers saw an increase in their salaries after joining the occupation. Charges per passenger are set as per the rules laid down by the e-rickshaw unions of respective areas.

Most e-rickshaw waalas would disallow carrying a fifth passenger if a TI (traffic inspector) is on duty in the area. This is a common sight around the Vishwavidyalaya metro station in the mornings. You’d find the area outside the station in frenzy mode from 10-2 PM as the window signifies the peak time for the drivers.

The e-rickshaw phenomenon is also seen by many drivers who’ve come from motley occupations as a means for social upliftment and security. It has essentially become a part of the city’s travel ecosystem.

Feature Image: The Hindu

Sidharth Yadav

[email protected]


Journalism has been called the “first rough draft of history”. D.U.B may be termed as the first rough draft of DU history. Freedom to Express.

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