Committee says ban e-rickshaws

Thousands of drivers of e-rickshaws, which have mushroomed in Delhi over the last year, and manufacturers of these battery-run, three-wheeled vehicles seem to be heading for a dark future as a high-powered committee has favoured a ban on them.

Sources in the transport department said the report of the committee, which comprised Delhi government officials and experts, talks of a possible complete stop on manufacture, sale and operation of the “unsafe” and “illegal” e-rickshaws, whose unofficial number in the city is said to be some 50,000.

The committee’s report has virtually coincided with the three-month deadline for e-rickshaw manufacturers to get approvals to produce these controversial vehicles.

A senior Delhi government official said, “A meeting of transport department officials is likely to be held on Monday to chalk out a strategy to take e-rickshaws off the road.” 

The officials will explore the possibility of registering FIRs against manufacturers that failed to follow the transport commissioner’s notice for getting approval for these vehicles under the Motor Vehicles Act.

The commissioner had issued the notice on March 6 and directed e-rickshaw manufacturers to get within three month these battery- and motor-run vehicles’ type approval and registration done.

The three-month deadline for the approval ended on Thursday.

The traffic police had also warned that failure to follow the law after the deadline will invite registration of FIRs. Sources said the high-powered committee, which examined aspects related to e-rickshaws, also got motors of some of these vehicles inspected from experts in The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI).

A TERI team pointed out that almost all e-rickshaws were using over 250 watt motor, which generated vehicle speeds of more than 30 km per hour.

These features meant that e-rickshaws cannot be treated as non-motorised vehicles under the Motor Vehicles Act and require regulation, an official said.

Under the act, there is no provision for giving these vehicles any permit, thus rendering their operation illegal.

The high-powered committee concluded that these vehicles could be brought under the ambit of the act only with the intervention of the Union Transport Ministry.

The committee was formed after work on a draft e-rickshaw policy began in March to tame the three-wheelers – costing between Rs 80,000 and Rs 1.25 lakh each.

The controversion vehicles are popular among commuters.

The appearance of e-rickshaws on Delhi roads was linked by experts to the need for cheap and reasonably quick mode of transport that could move around in congested areas.

But these vehicles also attained notoriety for their involvement in accidents as most of the drivers do not have any licence and lack road sense.

The vehicles offer employment to migrant drivers who cannot afford an autorickshaw, each of which costs Rs 2 lakh, apart from alleged bribe of Rs 50,000 needed to procure a permit, a member of an NGO that works for autorickshaw drivers said.

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