E-rickshaws likely to be used as goods carriers

The banned 80,000  e-rickshaws could make a comeback on city roads as e-carts or commercial goods carrier vehicles, according to the on going discussions in the transport department of the Delhi administration.

As passenger safety issues related to the existing fleet of the three-wheeled battery vehicles remain a concern, officials are considering possibilities which may save the livelihood of the existing fleet of e-rickshaw drivers by allowing the vehicles only for commercial use, instead of ferrying passengers.

Apart from the driver, the e-cart may be allowed to carry a total of 310 kg weight, said an official.

“The newly notified safety norms for e-rickshaws could apply on the passenger vehicles which may hit the road in future, while the existing ones may be used for commercial use,” he said.

The proposal talks about allowing the existing e-rickshaw owners to modify their vehicles’ bodies for commercial vehicle as a uniform design.

“This solution will also help develop a single prototype for e-carts which could undergo safety test at an independent agency before registration with the transport department,” said an official.

At present, the existing 80,000 passenger e-rickshaws are not of a uniform body and make. Despite the central government’s relaxation of the rules, there are concerns that even if one model of e-rickshaw is tested and certified, the test result may not apply to other two dozen models.

The registered association of e-rickshaw owners has been asked to send one prototype for safety and road fitness tests to a certifying agency till November 30.

“There are problems finding the model whose test report could apply to others,” said a member of an e-rickshaw association.

The e-rickshaws were banned by the Delhi High Court in July and the next hearing in the matter is scheduled for October 10.

The central government issued a gazette notification on October 1 making e-rickshaw a legal mode of transport, which the court wanted after it found that there was no mention of e-rickshaw in the list of vehicles legally allowed to ply under 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 W and a maximum speed of 25 kmph has also been recommended.
An e-rickshaw cannot be longer than 2.6 metres, wider than one metre and taller than 1.8 metres.

Each e-rickshaw will require 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 there will be a three-year validity of permanent e-rickshaw driving licence.

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