While commuting in the city has become much easier, it has come at a heavy cost for the traditional auto-rickshaw drivers.
Srinagar- Two months after e-rickshaws were introduced as an alternative transport in the city, petrol-driven auto rickshaw drivers have started to feel the heat.
Eco-friendly electronic auto-rickshaw service was started in the month of April in several parts, including Dalgate to Nehru Park, Gawkadal to Bohri Kadal, Dalgate to Khanyar, Khayam to Zulankar and other areas, due to lack of public transport facilities and rising pollution levels in Srinagar.
The e-rickshaws are considered eco-friendly and run on a chargeable Lithium battery.
But while commoners have benefited from the pocket and environment friendly mode of transport, traditional auto rickshaw drivers complain their passenger count has significantly dropped since the service started to ply on the city roads.
E-rickshaws usually charge a fare of Rs 10 per passenger for a distance of around two kilometers.
Younis Parvez Mir, an auto-rickshaw driver, said this is not the right time to be an auto-rickshaw driver.
“Owning an auto rickshaw isn’t easy,” Younis said, adding a brand new auto rickshaw costs around Rs 4.5 lakhs excluding the maintenance costs.
“We have to take care of ownership, fitness, permit and pollution certificates also. We are bound to charge customers according to the costs we infer,” he said.
Oppositely, he said, owning an E-rickshaw is way too easier as it comes with no hidden costs and government is providing subsidy for the same.
“The cost of e-rickshaw ranges between Rs 2-2.5 lakhs, which is very cost-efficient for a rickshaw driver compared to fuel driven public transport,” Younis said.
Mohammad Amin, another rickshaw driver from Shiraz Chowk Khanyar, voiced similar views saying the passenger count has dropped significantly ever since the e-rickshaw was started.
“We charge Rs 50 from Shriaz Chowk to Dalgate whereas e-rickshaw charges only Rs 10,” Amin said.
“It is obvious that commuters will prefer the latter mode of transportation,” he added.
It is pertinent to mention, amid the rising pollution resulting from growing traffic in Srinagar, the authorities have decided to introduce the r-rickshaws in several parts of the city.
But while commuting in the city has become much easier, it has come at a heavy cost for the traditional auto-rickshaw drivers.
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