The Akhilesh Yadav government is yet to begin distribution of free battery-operated rickshaws, described by SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav as “chamatkari kaam (miraculous work)”, despite having announced the scheme in 2012 and allocating Rs 800 crore for it so far.
The State Urban Development Authority (SUDA) under cabinet minister Azam Khan was sitting on Rs 500 crore when Akhilesh allocated another Rs 300 crore for the project in the 2014-15 budget that he presented in the Assembly Friday.
The SP had in its poll manifesto promised to distribute free battery-operated rickshaws, replacing the pedal rickshaws. They were are to be provided to 2.48 lakh persons registered with local bodies.
A budgetary allocation of Rs 100 crore was done for the first time in the 2012-13 budget.
In a function at the CM’s official residence to publicise the scheme, Mulayam had said: “This is a chamatkari kaam. I want other ministers to do such type of works. Such battery/motor operated rickshaw fit in the socialist ideology of Ram Manohar Lohia. He never took a pedal rickshaw as it is pulled by a human being.”
He told Akhilesh to implement the scheme without worrying about funds.
As many as 23 models of rickshaws from 13 companies were flagged off by Akhilesh and Mulayam for a trial run in February last year.
Azam constituted a six-member expert committee, including Dr Jayant Chatterjee (IIT Kanpur), Prof Sushil Kumar (IIM Lucknow), Vinod Kumar Kathuria (Chartered Engineer and Valuer), K R Rajgopal (IIT, New Delhi) Roshan Ali Qureshi (Registrar, Jauhar University, Rampur) and V K Tiwari ( Project Director, NEDA) to finalise the models after the trial run.
Meanwhile, Akhilesh again allocated Rs 400 crore in the 2013-14 budget.
In August last year, the committee finalised six companies, which includes three Delhi-based companies, Electric Auto Private Limited, Xs Bikes and Pelatino Automotives Private Limited, besides H B L Power System, Gurgaon, Purti Green Technology, Nagpur and Samman Foundation, Patna. One rickshaw was estimated to cost around Rs 60,000-Rs 65000
Things did not, however, move beyond the trial run.
In October 2013, Azam pulled up offcials for delay in executing the project.
Director, SUDA, S P Singh said the project will take some more time as policies of central government have changed. “Now, in the wake of new policies, we need to do re-tendering. There will be new companies instead of the earlier shortlisted six companies,” he said.