While the Delhi High Court on Thursday banned e-rickshaws in the national capital, observing that these were illegal under the present laws, officials in Chandigarh are busy passing the buck as rickshaws continue to operate without any registration or licence.
“We would like to express our view that unregulated plying of e-rickshaws is a hazard to other traffic as well as citizens,” the Delhi High Court ruled.
But in Chandigarh, various authorities continue to talk in different voices.
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On Friday, Ravinder, Motor Vehicle Inspector at the State Transport Authority, said, “The battery-operated rickshaws do not come under our ambit, and the administration plans to stop them in a day or two.”
However, Chandigarh Transport Secretary Bhawna Garg said, “The e-rickshaws now form part of public transport, but these should not be allowed to function without observing stipulated safety norms. These e-rickshaws need to be tested by some authorised testing agencies in accordance with the procedures laid down by the government.”
She added, “The testing agencies will have to conduct some road-worthiness test. In order to regulate these e-rickshaws in the city, we will take necessary steps to bring them under the Motor Vehicles Act and allow their plying only after they obtain necessary certification from the testing agencies. Registration will be done by the STA as per Section 47 of Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989.”
It was private trader Naveen Garg who brought 28 e-rickshaws to the city from Delhi and managed to sell 16 of them. He named the new e-rickshaw service as ‘Ruk-Ruk’ after the city’s first radio auto-rickshaw service ‘Tuk-Tuk’ which is on the verge of extinction.
Garg had written to STA, Transport Secretary and Municipal Corporation for a permission to officially launch battery-powered electric tricycles, but wasn’t granted permission.
He then filed an RTI application, asking if e-rickshaws come under the corporation’s jurisdiction and what the guidelines are for plying the e-tricycle. MC officials replied, “The municipal corporation does not have any bye-laws regarding battery-powered electric tricycle. Hence, this information is not available.”
Nevertheless, e-rickshaws started operating in the city about five months ago. At a recent meeting of the Municipal Corporation general house, the issue of regulating e-rickshaws was listed in the agenda, but was deferred for the next meeting.
Nominated councillor Surinder Bhaga, who had put forward the proposal, said, “I have gone through studies conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment, which say that e-rickshaws are good for cities since they do not cause pollution. Our city is already weak in public transport facility, which means that we need these e-rickshaws.”
However, Joint Municipal Commissioner Rajiv Gupta said, “Either STA or the Registering and Licensing Authority will have to decide on the matter. We do not provide licences to the rickshaws but since this issue was put up in the agenda meeting, we will have to see what comes out. Only then will we be in a position to recommend something to the UT Administration.”