Northeast’s rickshaw bank in Limca book of records

Ratnadeep Choudhury
Northeast’s rickshaw bank

People at Agartala (Tripura state capital) have started calling them ‘royal carriage on three wheels’ perhaps simply because of their gigantic structure which make them a bit heavy to be called a ‘rickshaw’. They are the hundreds of IIT Guwahati designed rickshaws which ply every day in the streets of Agartala and Guwahati. These had not only made it to the headlines for their unusual structure but more for the first of its kind Rickshaw Bank project which spins around these rickshaws. These days, the rickshaw bank is making news stories for another reason- recently it was made to the prestigious Limca Books of records.

It was way back in 2004 that a Guwahati based Vet Pradip Sarmah, came out with the idea of ‘Rickshaw Bank Project’. It was in November 2004 that his Centre for Rural Development (CRD), an NGO, introduced the project in Guwahati, an effort for which his name has been entered in the latest edition of the Limca Book of Records.

The Rickshaw Bank, as come as the shot on the arms for rickshaw pullers in Agartala and Guwahati. It helps the rickshaw pullers-the urban poor- by collecting money and providing financial support to them, so that they can own their own rickshaws. This project has now crossed the mountains of northeast to benefits people of costal India. The project 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.

Back in its cradle – the northeast- the project is doing wonders.  A total of 1,154 rickshaws have so far been distributed in Assam, including 769 in Guwahati city. Out of this, 330 beneficiaries now own the rickshaws themselves after paying the installments. In Agartala, the CRD has already distributed 315 such rickshaws. The price of the rickshaw, Rs 10,500, is realised from the rickshaw pullers in 420 daily installments of Rs 25. The project was launched at Agartala on July 26, 2006.

The project is presently going on an expansion drive and would be introduced in Surat and Noida in 2007-08, in Patna and Kolkata 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.

These rickshaws have been technically designed by the IIT Guwahati to suit the twisting-turning and bumpy roads of Indian cities especially in Northeast. Experts say these rickshaws are at least 40 per cent lighter than the country-made rickshaws and have ergonomic advantages. The other advantages with them are – they are more comfortable with flatter seats and do not tilt while negotiating turns and have better protection against sun shine and rain.

So next time you take a ride on the ‘Royal carriage on three wheels’, you can obviously feel proud since you are riding a record maker.

Ratnadeep Choudhury is a Freelance Journalist based at Agartala. He covers stories of Human Interest

about the Northeastern region. He can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.