With Ecocab, Fazilka shows the way

Ecocabs are cyclerickshaws that are only a phone call away

Urban planners in Europe and the US may hail rickshaws as an efficient, non-polluting way to move around, but the Indian elite has always looked down upon them. The humble rickshaw now has a reason to cheer. Fazilka's 'Ecocab' project, which will celebrate its second anniversary in June, is making planners across the country sit up and take notice.

Fazilka has four call centres, one in each part of the city, where residents can telephone to call a rickshaw home. Executives in the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS) want to implement this dial-in model for users of their BRT corridor buses. The Jaipur-based Kuhad Trust, which helps rickshaw-pullers own their rickshaws through a zero-interest scheme, wants to replicate the project in the Pink City, while the Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board is also looking at the feasibility of adopting this model for tourists in Amritsar.

The 'Ecocab' project, put in place by the Graduates Welfare Association of Fazilka (GWAF), is now being hailed as a pioneering initiative in the country. Dr Anvita Arora, CEO of Innovative Transport Solutions, an incubatee company of IIT-Delhi, says: "At the Urban Mobility Conference organised by the Ministry of Urban Development in December 2009, the project received much appreciation from national and international delegates." Dr Arora, who is working on sustainable transport in various cities, is a visiting faculty member of the urban design department of School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), New Delhi.

It was on her suggestion that Kirti Dikshit, now working as an industrial designer in a design firm at Delhi, did her master's thesis on the 'Ecocab' project as part of her M.Arch course at SPA. And 'Carbusters', the journal of the World Carfree Network, has carried a detailed article on the 'dial-a-rickshaw' facility.

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