On the sprawling campus of Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, the favourite vehicle among the students and faculty is the cycle rickshaw. Designed and developed by the institute, the rickshaws have been carrying passengers everyday for over a decade.
When Rashi Gupta, a doctoral student at India’s premier engineering institution, the Indian Institute of Technology in capital New Delhi goes to her lab every morning from her hostel on the campus, she hails a cycle rickshaw. “I like the rickshaw,” says Ms Gupta, who is doing research into replacing the hazardous chemical fertilizers with bio nutrients to help the country’s farmers. “The rickshaw is comfortable and keeps our campus less polluted,” adds the agricultural engineering scientist. Devi Lal, a second semester biotechnology under graduate, echoes Ms Gupta’s opinion. “I use only cycle rickshaws inside the campus. My friends too, ” he says.
The 17 cycle rickshaws on the campus of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi, are a popular mode of transportation among both the students and the faculty. When the students talk about the rickshaws, a sense of belonging is palpable. In fact, the cycle rickshaws that run on the IIT-Delhi campus are the products of the institute’s own Industrial Design and Development Centre. Developed in the late 1990s for an Agra-based organisation, which wanted a model that would be more comfortable than the conventional ones, the rickshaw of IIT-Delhi was adopted for use by the institute itself soon after, when it decided not to allow students to keep motor cycles. To the initial 10 rickshaws, which were free, the institute added seven more later.
While the rickshaw drivers were paid salaries to begin with, the wages were stopped when it was decided to hand over the ownership of the vehicles to their drivers. “We gave the rickshaws to the drivers free and asked them to maintain them and run them,” says retired army captain B N Yadav, the IIT-Delhi official who is in-charge of the running of the rickshaws on the campus. The drivers were then allowed to charge their passengers. The charges range between Rs 5 and Rs 15 for one passenger and Rs 10 and Rs 20 for two passengers, depending on the distance. “The rickshaws give employment to 17 people and improve the quality of air on the campus,” says Capt. Yadav.
The rickshaws are available to the passengers from 7:30 in the morning to 8:30 in the night seven days a week. “We get passengers everyday, but there are not many during the summer break,” says Nanku Kashyap, who has been a rickshaw driver in IIT-Delhi for the last 10 years. The institute campus, which is spread over 130 hectares in the historical locale of Hauz Khas in South Delhi, houses 8,600 students.
Faizal Khan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org