Lower House passes bill to regularise e-rickshaws

The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed a bill to regularise e-rickshaws, about two lakh of which ply in the national capital.

The Modi government had introduced the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill, which seeks to regularise e-rickshaws, in the Lok Sabha on Monday. The battery-operated vehicles were banned in the capital by the Delhi High Court citing safety concerns.

The Centre’s push to regularise e-rickshaws comes at a time when elections to the Delhi Assembly are expected early next year. The BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party are actively wooing e-rickshaw operators in their bid to come to power in the national capital territory.

“The bill has not been brought keeping in view the Delhi elections,” Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said, noting that drivers and passengers of e-rickshaws are poor people and a court order has affected over 2 lakh people who depend on them for livelihood.

Replying to the debate, Gadkari said with the passage of the bill, e-rickshaws and e-carts will be mandated to follow requirements with regard to display of registration marks, size of letters and numerals of the registration mark, transfer of ownership and validity of certificates and fitness.

The bill also has provisions that enable the state government to register e-rickshaws as per the amended rules, he said.

E-rickshaws have been plying on Delhi roads since 2012 but did not have any registration numbers and, therefore, were not regulated.

Addressing safety issues, Gadkari said the rules would allow an e-rickshaw to ferry only four passengers, excluding the driver, and luggage not more than 40 kg.

The bill also states that the motor that powers the e-rickshaw will not be more than 2,000 watts and the vehicle shall not exceed a speed of 25 km per hour.

The bill also seeks to remove difficulties in granting licence to drivers of e-rickshaws and e-carts by amending Section 7(1) of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988, and adding the definition of e-rickshaw and e-cart in the Act.

The provision that no person shall be granted a learner’s licence to drive a commercial vehicle unless he or she has held a driving licence for light motor vehicle for at least one year has been waived.

As most of the e-rickshaw and e-cart drivers do not have any licence, the existing provisions debar them from operating these vehicles for the next one year.

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