At Rs1-5 a trip, what looks like a diesel pump engine strapped to a wooden quadricycle is western UP’s lifeline
Gadh/Mayapuri/Sardulgarh: Jugaad (verb)—managing to get things done somehow or the other with limited resources.
Jugaad (noun)—a quadricycle, a means of transportation in north India, made of wooden planks and old jeep parts, variously known as kuddukka and pietereda.
It ain’t the Tata Nano but it’s India’s cheapest personalized four-wheeler in more ways than one.
Villagers use the jugaad to ferry goods such as fertilizers, and cane from nearby fields to local sugar factories
At Re1 a trip on bumpy roads, the passengers displaying a mix of nonchalance and quiet prayers, the only thing the jugaad has in common with any other vehicle with similar functionality are its four wheels.
A common sight on the pot-holed roads beyond Ghaziabad and near Meerut in western Uttar Pradesh, the jugaad is the lifeline for everyone from sugar cane traders to entire families criss-crossing villages.
Some lucky grooms can get one in dowry too.
Resembling an aggregation of leftover automobile parts, it’s little more than a diesel pump engine strapped on to a rickety wooden quadricycle, with lots of bells and whistles (literally) with the front often painted in garish orange and blues.
Usually, it can be seen carrying up to 35 people, or huge loads of cane from nearby fields to local sugar factories, the rugged precariousness of it is hard to miss.
On a 10km stretch leading to the village of Gadh, this writer counted more than 100 such vehicles, most transporting people. The peak fare is Rs5 for a 15km ride, quite similar to bus fares that were charged say in New Delhi just a decade ago. “I sell about 20 vehicles per month during the marriage season or crop season,” says Sunil Kumar, a dealer for these vehicles in Gadh.
A worker at a jugaad garage. It takes three-four people a little more than two days to put together a jugaad
Just like urban Indian middle class gives away cars as dowry or as a marriage gift, rural Indian grooms in the area, especially the unemployed, can get the jugaads, which then enable them to earn a living off them.
Not that it’s a lucrative business, complains Kundan, who goes by one name and plys the vehicle on the outskirts of Ghaziabad, noting it’s expensive to operate.