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April 27, 2018
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Sena wants dabbawalas to ride e-cycles, but cost a factorAn e-cycle costs at least ₹25,000, while traditional cycles come for around ₹4,000. The party has gifted them five units

Mumbai: To make life easier for dabbawalas, the Shiv Sena will be providing them with e-cycles that will run on batteries and eliminate the need to pedal. Subhash Talekar, spokesperson, Mumbai Dabbawala Association, said, “We have received five today and will be getting 20 more from the Shiv Sena. We are in talks with the manufacturers.” The first batch of e-cycles was commissioned into use by Sena leader Aditya Thackeray.

The e-cycle can be operated by a combination of pedalling and batteries. The battery is activated by pedalling once, and also by a switch on the handlebar. It gives the options of pedalling more and conserving battery, or turning off the battery altogether and using it as a normal cycle. Mr. Talekar said, “Dabbawalas have progressed from handcarts to cycles and now, e-cycles. These will be beneficial as more than 60% of dabbawalas are aged over 40 years. Cycling puts a strain on their knees.”

The e-cycles, developed by Nashik-based Nibe Motors, are fitted with a 250-kilowatt electric motor and a 10-ampere battery, which can be recharged in around three hours. Dnyaneshwar Nibe, R&D Head, Nibe Motors said they have received all necessary clearances, including from the Regional Transport Organisation. “The e-cycles have been designed and developed keeping in mind the needs of the dabbawalas. The starting price is ₹25,000, and may vary depending on the distance it needs to travel on a single charge.”

The e-cycles can carry around 20 tiffin sets, while dabbawalas carry up to 40 tiffin sets on traditional bicycles. The cost factor is a worry, dabbawalas said, as the cycles they use are available for around ₹4,000. Mr Talekar said they are in discussion with the company on this and other aspects regarding the e-cycle.