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Win-win: Punjab nudge to replace autos with e-rickshaws

In what is being projected as a “Tandrust Punjab” scheme, autorickshaws more than 15 years old would be replaced with CNG- and battery-run rickshaws.

 Punjab, Punjab pollution, Punjab to replace autos with e-rickshaws, Punjab e-rickshaws, e-rickshaws pollution Owners can exchange old autos with new green ones. (Representational image)

TO check pollution caused by autorickshaws that are 15 years old or older, the Punjab government has introduced a scheme that will incentivise owners to switch over to e-rickshaws, a non-polluting mode of transport. It has tied up with manufacturing companies to offer an exchange scheme for the owners of the autorickshaws.

In what is being projected as a “Tandrust Punjab” scheme, autorickshaws more than 15 years old would be replaced with CNG- and battery-run rickshaws. The government has already initiated the process of identifying the old and polluting autos.

To sensitise owners about the pollution and other benefits of CNG and e-rickshaws, the government has also tied up with non-governmental organisations. Simultaneously, it has co-opted manufacturers to help the government identify the owners of old auto-rickshaws, and offer them discounts under an exchange scheme to reduce the acquisition cost.

If the autorickshaw owners are unable to buy the new environment-friendly autos, the government would make a case for financing the vehicles under the MUDRA scheme.

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“There are about 15,000 autorickshaws across the state, which are more than 15 years old. When cities like Delhi ban these vehicles, they end up getting dumped in Punjab. When we try to stop them, it becomes a law and order situation as these autorickshaw pliers have unions, and they start agitating. Moreover, it is an issue of their livelihood. We do not want to take an extreme step so as to make them suffer. Hence, we have come up with this idea,” said Kahan Singh Pannu, Mission Director, Tandrust Punjab.

Pannu said the government is in the process of identifying these 15,000 autorickshaws plying on roads in different parts of the state. “Our drive has already been initiated in Ludhiana. We plan to finish with the identification process by March. By the end of this year, we will see e-rickshaws replacing polluting old vehicles,” he said.

The tie-up with manufacturing companies is to buy the old autos from the owners and offer new ones on discount. “The old autos thus bought from the owners would be scrapped and sold to furnace units in Mandi Gobindgarh. This will ensure that these vehicles do not make their way into any other city or state,” Pannu said.

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Autorickshaws older than 15 years plying illegally have been the most polluting vehicles on Punjab’s roads. Most of these are not registered, and do not pay any taxes to the government. Further, the drivers of these old vehicles often do not have valid driving licenses. “Now, everything will be taken care of. The government employees, manufacturing units and volunteers of NGOs are already in touch with the owners. With new vehicles, we will ensure all legalities are completed,” said Pannu.

Pannu said the idea was conceived about four months ago. The government got in touch with manufacturing companies and together with NGOs, they identified and sensitised owners and drivers to buy an environment-friendly rickshaw. “If someone comes at your doorstep to offer a new rickshaw on exchange, that too for a vehicle which is illegal, half of the mission is achieved. Also, we are offering a price for the old one. Otherwise, those are not sold in the market. This will help us achieve our mission,” said Pannu.

First published on: 06-01-2020 at 05:32:43 am
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