Bicycle manufacturing increases in Indian state of Punjab

Source:Xinhua Published: 2014-2-3 8:23:06

Bicycle manufacturing in India's northern state of Punjab is on the rise.

According to the latest figures provided by industry sources, around 50,000 bicycles are manufactured every day in Ludhina City alone.

"Our company started with manufacturing 25 bicycles a day in 1956 and today we manufacture around 20,000 bicycles a day," Ashok Bawa, senior general manager for publicity of Hero Cycles said.

Hero Cycles Ltd. is one of the leading bicycle manufacturers in India.

The price of an ordinary bicycle in the Indian market is 44 US dollars but high-end bicycles are sold at 288 US dollars apiece.

Of late some high-end bicycles, which are imported, could cost up to 2,800 US dollars apiece.

The city has around 4,000 small, medium and big enterprises that are associated with the manufacturing of bicycles and bicycle parts.

Industry sources said that around 300,000 people in the city are dependent for their livelihood from bicycle manufacturing and trading.

"The bicycle manufacturing in Ludhina is 1.12 billion US dollars industry," said Charanjit Singh Vishvkarma, president of the United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association (UCPMA) Ludhina. "Unfortunately, over the years our exports have decreased and imports increased."

The industry is importing spokes, baskets, hub cones, chains, chain wheels and cranks, steel balls, plastic handle levers, saddle parts, pumps and cables from overseas.

"These items are available at higher prices in domestic market so people import them at much cheaper rates," said Vishvkarma.

He said that 94 percent of the cycles manufactured in city are exported to other states and beyond and only 4 percent are sold in Punjab state.

"People here are not using enough bicycles because they have money to buy four-wheelers," he said. "I wish people would switch to bicycle as a mode of transport to have clean air and an eco- friendly environment."

Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are two Indian states where bicycles are in great demand, Vishvkarma added.

The four leading Indian bicycles companies include Hero, Avon, Atlas and TI.

Authorities last year banned bicycles along with hand carts and other non-motorized vehicles during daytime from 174 key roads and streets in the Indian metropolitan city of Kolkata.

The officials said the step was taken to minimize accidents during rush hours in the city's roads.

The ban evoked a sharp criticism from cyclists and activists who were up in arms against the order.

Increasing vehicle numbers and fuel prices have been hitting India hard. Petroleum accounts for one third of India's energy needs and 80 percent of this is imported.

Activists are asking the Indian government to cut its energy demands in order to reduce carbon emissions. Citing environmental concerns, they have urged the government to encourage people to use non-motorized modes of mobility like walking and bicycle riding.

India's leading environmental activist Sunita Narain, of the non-governmental organization Center for Science and Environment ( CSE), lamented that cyclists in Indian cities are being edged out systematically to make way for cars.

Last year she suffered multiple injuries after being hit by a vehicle while cycling on a New Delhi road.

CSE is vocal about people's right to walk and ride their bicycles on the roads in India's urban space.

India produces approximately 10 percent of the world annual bicycle production, which is estimated at 125 million bicycles.

According to UCPMA, the annual domestic demand of bicycles in India is approximately 10 million out of which around 2.5 million is sold to the government for its various welfare schemes. The remaining are exported to African countries and other less developed economies and even a few Western markets.

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