[Assam] Rickshaw Bank in Limca

Pradip Kumar Datta pradip200 at yahoo.com
Thu May 3 21:43:56 PDT 2007

        Rickshaw Bank in Limca
- Book of records honours vet’s project for urban poor     A STAFF REPORTER                The rickshaws designed by IIT Guwahati. File picture  Guwahati, May 3: It has its roots in IIT Guwahati and has travelled places. But the glory for the new-look rickshaw has come from another place —the Limca Book of Records.
  Pradip Sarmah, a vet in Guwahati, has been credited with creating a national record by starting the first Rickshaw Bank project in November 2004. Recognising his efforts and the innovative concept, his name has been entered in the latest edition of the Limca Book of Records.
  The record was officially announced at a news conference organised by the Centre for Rural Development, an NGO started by Sarmah, today. 
  The Rickshaw Bank, a part of the centre, collects money and provides financial support to rickshawpullers, so that they can own their own rickshaws. This model of Rickshaw Bank was replicated by the CARE-India and the Tamil Nadu government with the help of the Centre for Rural Development to rehabilitate tsunami victims.
  Already 200 such rickshaws were distributed among the victims in the southern state. “I started the project after discovering that most of the men did not own the rickshaws they plied. Our mission is to provide sustainable livelihood to poor families by using local resources and skill upgrade with community participation,” he said.
  Sarmah, who is the executive director of the centre, said in its efforts for rural development in 2004, the NGO came up with the idea of running a Rickshaw Bank to cater to the urban poor and marginalised population. 
  “The idea was translated into action and the project has been under implementation since November 2004. Besides the Rickshaw Bank, the centre has been engaging itself in several other rural development projects,” he added.
  Under the Rickshaw Bank project, altogether 1,154 rickshaws have so far been distributed in Assam, including 769 in Guwahati. Of this, 330 beneficiaries now own the rickshaws after paying the instalments.
  Besides Assam, the Rickshaw Bank project was also introduced in Agartala in July 26, 2006. The centre has already distributed 315 such rickshaws in the Tripura capital. The price of the rickshaw, Rs 10,500, is realised from the rickshawpullers in 420 daily instalments of Rs 25.
  Sarmah described the project as an asset-based micro-credit scheme, under which a rickshawpuller is given a package deal comprising a rickshaw, a licence, uniform, photo-identity card and an insurance cover. 
  The rickshaws have been especially designed by the IIT Guwahati to suit to the climatic and geographic conditions in the state. “These are 40 per cent lighter than the usual rickshaws and has ergonomic advantages, too. They are more comfortable and safer as they have flatter seats and do not tilt while negotiating turns,” Sarmah said.
  About his expansion plan, Sarmah said the centre would introduce the project in Surat and Noida in 2007-08, in Patna and Calcutta in 2008-09 and then in Siliguri and Bhubaneswar in 2009-10.
  The NGO is also planning to introduce the project in Varanasi, Lucknow and Allahabad through franchisees.

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