Politicians woo e-rickshaw drivers

AAP, BJP delegations meet Transport Minister, seek removal of legal hurdles

Teams of the Delhi BJP and the AAP met Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari in an apparent competition to woo e-rickshaw drivers and demand early relief for the now-banned controversial battery vehicles.

The desperation of the two parties to meet the minister and educate the e-rickshaw drivers was quite noticeable a day after the ministry uploaded on its website the daft guidelines for legalising the vehicles.

Delhi BJP president Satish Upadhyay and Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal met Gadkari to seek early removal of hurdles in the way of bringing back e-rickshaws on roads.
The Congress, on the other hand, alleged the two rival parties were trying to fool the e-rickshaw drives with political motives.

Upadhyay said the central government has been making best effort to bring e-rickshaws back on roads.

“In consideration of the court directives, suggestions of specialists and public safety, the government has tried to resolve the matter,” he said.

He said Gadkari assured their delegation that the new guidelines, to be published in the next two days, will satisfy the court, paving the way for the return of nearly one lakh battery-vehicles on city roads.

Gadkari has also suggested safety training and counselling sessions for these drivers, he said, adding self-certification after fitness tests by e-rickshaw makers was also being considered.

Kejriwal told reporters after his meeting with Gadkari that over two lakh e-rickshaw drivers have been rendered jobless after the court ban.

“I asked Gadkari about his announcements on June 17 at Ramlila Maidan at a rally of e-rickshaw drivers. Why those announcements have not been implemented?” he said.
“I was shocked to hear his reply. He said the solicitor general raised objections subsequently and those announcements were dumped,” said Kejriwal.

Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee’s chief spokesperson Mukesh Sharma accused the BJP and the AAP of misleading these drivers.
“It seems like they - BJP and AAP - are having discussions on government formation in Delhi and their legal cases,” he said.

“They don’t care about e-rickshaw drivers all they want to get their votes,” he said.
“Why did Gadkari assure the e-rickshaw drivers against any action against them without any concrete plan? What was Kejriwal doing when he was the Chief Minister?” he said.
The draft guidelines of the ministry, uploaded on its website, define an e-rickshaw as a special purpose battery-operated vehicle having three wheels and intended to provide last-mile connectivity for transport of passengers for hire or reward.

The guidelines recognise e-rickshaw as a formal mode of transport and have added it to the list of two-wheeler, three-wheeler and quadricycle.

An e-rickshaw cannot be longer than 2.6 metres, wider than one metre and taller than 1.8 metres, according to the guidelines.

The guidelines make it clear that the vehicle should be adapted to carry not more than four passengers, excluding the driver, and not more than 40 kg luggage. A maximum motor speed of 2000W and a maximum speed of 25 kmph has also been recommended.
Each e-rickshaw will require a fitness certificate valid for three years, based on 28 tests and ply on a specific route.

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