Free rickshaw scheme to cost govt R1500 cr

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The Akhilesh Yadav government's scheme of providing solar or battery-operated rickshaws to about 2.5 lakh registered rickshaw-pullers in the state will cost at least Rs 1,500 crore to the state exchequer.

In response to the state government's invitation, 21 companies have shown interest in supplying rickshaws. Sources said that these companies have quoted the price of their rickshaws between Rs 60,000 and Rs 1.2 lakh per unit.

"These companies are involved in manufacturing and supply of solar or battery-operated rickshaws. At the minimum price of rickshaw mentioned in the offer, the purchase of 2.5 lakh rickshaws will cost Rs 1,500 crore," said an official. The state government, however, made a provision of Rs 100 crore in the current year's budget. The ruling Samajwadi Party, in its election manifesto, had promised to give battery or solar-powered rickshaws free of cost to each rickshaw-puller in the state. After coming to power, the government set a rider that only rickshaw-pullers registered with municipal bodies before March 31, 2012, will be entitled to the benefit.

The State Urban Development Agency (SUDA) of the Urban Development Department is the nodal agency for implementation of the scheme. SUDA director Shiv Shankar Singh said, "Offers had been invited from the companies to submit Expression of Interest in providing rickshaws with certain specifications. Indication of approximate cost of each vehicle had also been sought."

Singh added, "Financial bids will be invited separately to purchase the rickshaws after the sample rickshaws are cleared by our technical experts." An official said the price of rickshaws was likely to be remain unchanged in the financial bids.

The government has asked these companies to provide at least two rickshaws for trial, which will be done by registered rickshaw-pullers. Singh said that the date and place of trials will be announced soon.

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