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E Rickshaw run at Matheran..; Finally freedom from the traditional practice of pulling rickshaws

Harshad Kashalkar, Loksatta

Alibaug : For the first time after 75 years of independence, E-rickshaw criss-crosses Matheran. This electric rickshaw was tested in Matheran in accordance with Supreme Court guidelines. On this occasion, the movement of the Matherankars started from the custom of pulling a rickshaw.

Man-drawn rickshaws are considered a symbol of slavery. These rickshaws were therefore stopped all over the country. However, the inhuman type of rickshaw pulled by the people of Matheran of Raigad district still continues today citing the ban on vehicles. Keeping this in mind, there was a demand to start battery electric rickshaws in Matheran.

Sunil Shinde, a retired teacher from Matheran, appealed to the Supreme Court as the Department of Environment failed to respond to the request despite repeated requests. While hearing the motion, the court reprimanded the state government saying how man-drawn rickshaws could continue into 2022. It was also tasked with testing e-rickshaws and submitting a report within three months. Following the court order, the Urban Development Department, Matheran Supervision Committee and Raigad District Collector approved the electric rickshaw and conducted the test on Wednesday. She succeeded.

Officials from Transport Department, Maharashtra State Pollution Control Board, Police, Revenue, Urban Development Department, Matheran City Council and Forestry Department attended the event. Matherankar enthusiastically welcomed the trial of the electric rickshaw.

As Matheran is known as an environmentally sensitive area, the use of vehicles is prohibited there. Therefore, rickshaws pulled by horses and men are the main means of communication in Matheran. These two modes are known as the means of transport in medieval times. They became obsolete after mechanization.

However, in the name of environmental preservation, these two medieval-era transport vehicles are still in use in Matheran. In terms of tourism in Matheran, these means of transport are now becoming an obstacle. Matheran has about 400 passengers and 200 freight horses. Lead, the kidney of these horses became a big problem for Matheran. On the other hand, the lives of tourists are in danger due to the increase in horse-trampling incidents.

On the other hand, Matheran operates 92 human-powered rickshaws. These rickshaws were introduced as a symbol of slavery in Matheran during British rule. Over time, these rickshaws continued to be the mode of transportation here. Even after independence, the inhumane practice of these rickshaws continued in Matheran. The reason was the vehicle ban in Matheran. With the help of a driver and one to two companions, the practice of these rickshaws continues today.

The request to stop these rickshaws in Matheran and start battery-powered electric rickshaws instead. This will avoid congestion for the elderly and tourists and also provide tourists with a pollution-free travel option at a cost-effective rate.

Matherankar had dreamed of launching e-rickshaws for ten years. Today it has become reality. All responded positively to the test. Electric rickshaws will boost Matheran tourism and free the yoke of human rickshaw pullers.

– Sunil Shinde, petitioner.

A one-day trial was held following the Supreme Court’s order. Some rickshaws have been tested taking into account geographical and environmental conditions. For this, collector Dr. A review board was appointed by Mahendra Kalyankar. The test took place in his presence. After approval from the Matheran Testing Committee, qualified e-rickshaws will be tested regularly for the next three months.

Sureksha Bhange, Director, Matheran City Council

A one-day trial was held following the Supreme Court’s order. Some rickshaws have been tested taking into account geographical and environmental conditions. For this, collector Dr. A review board was appointed by Mahendra Kalyankar. The test took place in his presence. After approval from the Matheran Testing Committee, qualified e-rickshaws will be tested regularly for the next three months.

Sureksha Bhange, Director, Matheran City Council

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