Written specially for Vikalp Sangam
Rapid motorization and privatization of urban mobility has posed serious health hazards and created great divide in terms of access to opportunities. In response to these trends, a group of enthusiastic people in Fazilka conceptualised and developed a plan for reviving non-motorized shared transport in the form of ecocab.
Fazilka is a municipal council in Punjab near the India Pakistan border and it has total population of roughly 80 thousand. Being a small town, people have to travel very short distances in their everyday life. Though this makes the cycle rickshaw a suitable mode of transport for people in Fazilka, its usage was in sharp decline because of proliferation of automobiles. Automobiles not only captured the road space but also created severe traffic risks for cycle rickshaw- both of which demotivated people to use cycle rickshaw.
Graduate Welfare Association of Fazilkalaunched dial-a-rickshaw (Ecocab) service in the year 2008. They strategically divided the town in 9 service zones and 20 feeder sub-zones in order to reduce the waiting time. The initiative not only combined the advanced information technology with the cycle rickshaw but it also updated the cycle rickshaw to an ergonomically designed ecocabs that improve its safety, comfort and maneuverability. It created self-employment option for more than 500 people (called ‘traction personnel’) whose earnings come not only from fare paid by users but also from fleet booking and advertisements. There are several welfare schemes for traction personnel of ecocab which include free medical consultation, free legal aid, accident insurance, and distribution of mobile phones. The project helps save about 900 liters of fuel daily and benefits visitors and tourists in the city.
Cycle rickshaws are really good at adapting to the demands and conditions. During the lockdown phase and thereafter, ecocabs have been linked with delivery of essential goods and services. A similar initiative has kick-started in Patiala with the help of Tourism Department. In the age of climate action, cycle rickshaws are a truly ecological mode of mobility and have the potential to create meaningful, green livelihoods in cities and towns. People-friendly and sustainable modes of transport can be revived with the help of modern information technology whenever the integration is symbiotic. Non-motorized transport is a core component of Indian cities and will take the centre stage in urban planning if community comes together to create infrastructures to support their needs.
Mr. Navdeep Asija, Secretary, Graduates Welfare Association Fazilka
Email ID: [email protected]
Contact Number: +91 9464413323 For more information: https://www.ecocabs.org
Read an older article on this endeavour