Varanasi: Crippled by lack of charging points, the new e-boats launched by Narendra Modi at Varanasi's Assi Ghat last week, failed to live up to its expectations with boatmen now having to row the boat manually.
Gifting five of the 11 promised solar powered e-boats, the Prime Minister had assured boatmen that the new intervention would ease them of Rs 500 on diesel every day. The boats were to be charged with solar power panels affixed atop the boats.
According to reports, the boatmen claimed that the batteries that came with the boats had drained and that the roof-top solar panels were yet to be mounted.
"The batteries which came with the boat are drained... We need to take them out and get them charged, of course, at a cost," said Surat Sahni, one of the recipients of the boat.
The woes do not end there. Many believe that the plastic rudder and propeller can break away easily in the ever so crowded and mismanaged ghat which has about 2,500 boats plying on its waters.
Doubts have been cast on the stability of the boat as well. While some say that the roof-mounted solar panels will make the boat top heavy, eventually making it unbalanced, others feel that the boats are rather meant for placid waters such as lakes.
Though the new boats do not make as much noise as the diesel ones, the scheme is yet to take off on its full potential.
Modi had claimed that the step was in line with his government's focus on making long-term interventions to empower the poor in their fight against poverty and climb up the ladder, which was not the case during previous governments.
"Unfortunately politics in our country took a direction in which policies were always made to strengthen vote bank. The focus was that the vote bank should remain strong, irrespective of whether the poor, the citizens of the country, get empowered or not or the country is strengthened or not.
"Earlier when something was talked about our Nishad brothers, the price of diesel was brought down by one rupee or so in the hope that they will cast their vote in favour. But we have made schemes, which empower the poor to fight and defeat the poverty themselves. We are working in that direction," he said listing a number of other schemes....