'E-Autos Have Hit Delhi Roads: I Met Drivers Who Shared the Pros & Cons'

The Aam Aadmi Party government is promoting electric autos in Delhi in order to reduce carbon footprint.

My Report
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Amongst the several steps taken by the Delhi government to curb pollution in the national capital region, the push for electric vehicles is one of the significant moves. The Kejriwal government is promoting electric autos in the city.

I spoke to some of these auto drivers to understand the pros and cons of the move for them.

In South Delhi's Kalkaji locality, I met Ajay Veer Singh, who has been driving an autorickshaw for around 25 years. Now, he has switched to an electric auto.

An electric auto charging point at a bus stop in South Delhi's Kalkaji locality.

(Photo Courtesy: Nishat Gauhar)

"It's been 10-15 days since I bought an electric auto. I bought this for Rs 3.58 lakh rupees – 1 lakh rupees was down payment and 10,122 rupees is my monthly payment for the next 36 months. The charging is free at the moment. Earlier, I used to buy CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) for at least Rs 300 per day."
Ajay Veer Singh, Electric Auto Driver

Hari Shankar Prasad, another electric auto driver, was seemingly happy about his experience with the electric vehicle.

"It's been 15-20 days since I bought this. For the past week, I have been routinely driving it and I don't think it's in any way below par to the CNG autos. Regarding the free charging, I got to know about it just two days ago. Even if I compare it with commercial electrical meters, the charging cost is less than CNG. It has low maintenance cost and earnings are similar to that of the CNG auto."
Hari Shankar Prasad, Electric Auto Driver

Hari Shankar Prasad with his newly bought electric autorickshaw.

(Photo Courtesy: Nishat Gauhar)


However, these drivers complain about the availability of charging points and the time taken to charge the electric auto.

"There are charging points but it's not evenly distributed throughout Delhi. South Delhi has many charging points but many times these charging points give errors or are faulty. Earlier, I was charging at Nehru Place, it was giving errors. There aren't many charging stations on the other side of the Yamuna (East Delhi)."
Ajay Veer Singh, Electric Auto Driver

"The downside is that it takes three hours to charge. If that could be done in 15-30 minutes, then it would be great. Earnings for these three hours take a hit," says Ved Prakash, another electric auto driver.

The switch from conventional CNG auto to an electric doesn't seem to be an easy process as those driving the CNG have their own concerns.

Brajesh Kumar, a CNG auto driver, whom I met in South Delhi, said he would like to switch but does not have the money for it.

Ajay Veer Singh charging his electric auto.

(Photo Courtesy: Nishat Gauhar)

"I would like to switch, but I don't have enough money. See, neither do I have the money nor am I a resident of Delhi. I don't have a resident proof here. All my ID proofs and driving licence are issued in Uttar Pradesh."
Brajesh Kumar, CNG Auto Driver

Noor Alam, who's driving CNG-powered rickshaws, is hesitant to switch from CNG to electric.

"I wouldn't like to switch to electric, because if the battery gets damaged it would require Rs 60,000 and if our engine gets damaged, then it costs only Rs 10,000. Even though CNG is expensive, it is better than an electric auto because where will I search for charging ports. It's a new thing, which is why the government is providing free charging points. Later, they might stop the facility."
Noor Alam, CNG Auto Driver

Ved Prakash, an electric auto driver, hopes the government will continue to support them with free charging points.

(Photo Courtesy: Nishat Gauhar)

The dismal number of electric autos in the city shows that the drivers are unsure of the switch even though they believe that the electric vehicle is an environment-friendly option as the cost involved in the switch will play a key role.

"Till the time the charging facility is free, it's great. When charges come into effect, we will see how good or bad it is," added Ved Prakash, an electric auto driver.

Going forward, it is very important to take steps in order to reduce the rising pollution in the national capital in which the use of electric vehicles seems to be a step in the right direction. But in taking the step, the government needs to make sure that they are sustainable and that all stakeholders are taken care of.

(The author is a Journalism student from Jamia Millia Islamia. All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

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