By Sunil Kataria
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - As much of India swelters in unusually high temperatures, the driver of one New Delhi autorickshaw has found a new way of keeping himself and his passengers cool: growing a mini-garden on the three-wheeler's roof.
Mahendra Kumar says the covering of grasses and plants shields the plastic and metal roof of the vehicle from direct sunlight.
"I planted them to get some respite during the heat," the 48-year-old said, standing by his green and yellow autorickshaw in a grey uniform and a scarf slung from his neck to wipe away sweat.
"It is sunny but the presence of these plants is keeping us cool and providing us with fresh air," said one passenger, Maya Bisht.
Autorickshaw taxis are ubiquitous in Indian cities and popular for cheap short-distance travel.
Kumar, who has also installed fans inside his, says the garden features at least 25 different plants, some of them edible. "I have grown tomatoes, mango, okra, snake gourd, and spinach."
India suffered its hottest March in more than a century and temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius in many cities for much of April. Scientists say global warming is to blame. More than two dozen people have died of suspected heat stroke since late March and power demand has hit multi-year highs.
(Reporting by Krishna N. Das; editing by John Stonestreet)