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Patna, (Bihar Times): Providing Samman (respect) with the help of fabric-bodied rickshaw! This is what Irfan Alam, the founder-director of the Samman Foundation, a New Delhi-based NGO, is yearning for.

This 70-75 kilogrammes rickshaw is likely to hit the roads of Bodh Gaya and Delhi simultaneously sometimes in mid-summer of 2008.   Weighing about 50-60 kilos less than the conventional rickshaw it will have more leg-room, space for luggage and the ride will be much comfortable for the rickshawpullers as well as the passengers. The wheels will be of mopeds and the pedicab, as it is now being called, will have cycle-gears, shock absorbers and power brakes. Low height and radio-headphones are likely to attract the passengers. Besides, there is Rs one lakh insurance cover, both for the rickshaw-puller and passengers traveling in it.

Though designed by a teacher of the Delhi School of Architecture in association with students of the Mechanical Engineering department of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, and Indian Instittue of Managerment, Ahmedabad, the rickshaw is the new initiative of Irfan, who hails from Begusarai district of north Bihar.

It will cost Rs 12,000 almost at par with the conventional rickshaw and the Punjab National Bank is ready to finance it.

This rickshaw can be used for the sale of recharge coupons of the mobile phones, tetra-pack beverages, mineral water bottles etc as well.

Irfan Alam, who has done his Management Development Programme from IIM-Ahmed told a section of media that this pedicab is on test in New Delhi. The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute have given the Foudnation the consent for producing such rickshaws.

Irfan said that the Samman Foundation had identified three manufacturers in Patna and others in Begusarai, Bhagalpur, Muzfaffarpur, Siwan and Darbhanga. Such manufacturers have been identified in Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh as well.  Micro-entrepreneurs are being idenfitied in other states too.
The Samman’s target is one lakh rickshaw in 100 cities by 2010. The margin money for the Rs 100 crore project will come from the American India Foundation, an NGO.

The Samman Foundation will provide Research and Development support and train local vendors. The new rickshaw will change the very profile of the rickshawpullers.  There will be professionalism in them and they will be motivated to saving habits. Besides, efforts will be made to create health and hygiene awareness among them. The Samman will also work to educate the children of these rickshawpullers.