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Winners and Losers in the Greening of Delhi’s Auto-rickshaws

An Indian autorickshawOn March 30, Monica Bansal, a graduate student at Colombia University’s School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation visited EMBARQ’s offices and presented her research on Delhi’s auto-rickshaws. These three-wheeled vehicles carry thousands of city residents each day, providing an alternative to private car trips and an important source of jobs in the region.

Unfortunately, auto-rickshaws are also major polluters. In Kolkata, for example, auto-rickshaws comprise 5% of the fleet, but an estimated 35% percent of vehicle-related pollution.

In her talk, Bansal discussed how the Dehli government has moved to address this issue by requiring many auto rickshaw owners to replace their old three-wheelers with new models that run on cleaner-burning Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).

While the CNG program’s intention to reduce air pollution was certainly welcome, Bansal’s research also highlighted the economic burden and numerous inconveniences that the plan has placed on auto-rickshaw drivers. These workers earn on average $60 per month and support 5-8 dependents. Bansal’s interviews with members of this vulnerable group found that they were subjected to 12 hour lines at CNG fuel stations, high priced new CNG vehicles, and increased maintenance costs.

These observations remind us how incorporating the needs of lower socioeconomic classes is a constant challenge. Nevertheless, this task is essential if the costs and benefits of these type projects are to be distributed fairly across society.

Download a Copy of Monica’s Presentation

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  • Autorickshaws are one amongst delhi’s many lifelines. Unfortunately, like Monica says, the drivers are not enabled enough to control pollution. Their motto is to take bread home.

    Their have been some interesting observations as well by me. Once I spoke to an autowallah uncle, around 60 who’s been driving auto for moer than 30 years, got his two sons educated, married and bought them homes. A lovely person to talk to -it kept me happy for couple of days then to see jest for life in him.

    Wish there are more like him who know what to do with their life even while driving an autorickshaw.

  • Pingback: CNG and Regulatory Force on the Auto-Rickshaw Industry in New Delhi « Monica Bansal, Portfolio()

  • Dear Gaurav,

    Thanks for bringing our attention to the broken link.

    You can find Monica Bansal’s presentation on the newly re-designed Web site for EMBARQ – The World Resources Institute Center for Sustainable Transport:

    Also, I have repaired the link — you should be able to upload the PDF directly from The City Fix now.

    Thanks for reading our blog and good luck with your studies! You are welcome to share your observations and findings with The City Fix.


  • Gaurav

    I am a student of School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi. I desire to do a study on auto-rickshaws in Delhi. The link for the presentation by Monica Bansal seems to be broken. If there’s any way the presentation could be made available, I would be grateful.

  • Great Site, love the blog

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  • Monica Bansal

    It’s important to note that Delhi succeeded in large-scale transformation of its transportation system. The levels of compliance with the Supreme Court Order on such a short timeframe have been astonishing, especially within the paratransit sector, which often operates with little to no regulation. This study highlights concerns that must be addressed in paratransit policy–ranging from socio-economic sensitivities to vehicle maintenance. Another recent study actually found that not addressing these concerns rendered the paratransit fuel switch somewhat environmentally ineffective (