E-ricks get legal status but won't ply right now

Centre, Delhi wait for court nod, next hearing Oct 10

The central government’s formal notification on Wednesday that gives battery-powered e-rickshaws a legal status is a big step forward, but it may not see these three-wheeled vehicles returning immediately to the capital’s roads. 

The vehicles were banned by the Delhi High Court in July and the next hearing in the matter is on October 10.

The notification makes e-rickshaw a legal mode of transport, which the court wanted after it found that there was no mention of e-rickshaws in the list of vehicles legally allowed to ply under the the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989.

The notification makes 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 2,000 watts and a maximum speed of 25 kmph have also been recommended. 

Officials in the Delhi Transport Department said some of the formalities related to safety certification of the existing off-road vehicles, which number around 80,000, were still to be completed so their return to the roads might take some more time. The vehicles have to be certified by an independent agency that these are safe.Also, before these vehicles hit the city roads, the drivers need to get driving licences, which will be issued by the transport authority.

“No e-rickshaw driver has applied or got a licence, so how can you expect that these vehicle with return on the road tomorrow?” a senior official said.

Special Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Muktesh Chander said: “We will ensure all conditions stipulated in the notification are met. The vehicles will be allowed only if that happens.”

The notification by the central government is expected to strengthen its plea before the court to lift the ban on the vehicles, an official said.

The ministry defined an e-rickshaw as a special purpose battery-operated vehicle having three wheels and intended to provide last-mile connectivity. It recognises e-rickshaw as a formal mode of transport and adds 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. Each e-rickshaw will need a fitness certificate valid for three years based on 28 tests and ply on a specific route. There will be a need for a learner’s licence for e-rickshaw drivers and a three-year validity of permanent e-rickshaw driving licence.

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