A rally organised by e-rickshaw unions turned into a BJP event on Tuesday with Union transport Minister Nitin Gadkari announcing a Deen Dayal e-rickshaw scheme. The scheme aims to legalise the operation of e-rickshaws in Delhi, with Gadkari even assuring e-rickshaw drivers that they would no longer be fined by the Delhi Police.
“The Deen Dayal e-rickshaw scheme will provide livelihood to two crore people,’’ he said.
E-rickshaws were rendered illegal by a notification from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) on April 24, before Gadkari assumed office. In recent weeks, the Delhi Transport department and police had initiated a crackdown on such vehicles.
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On Tuesday, Gadkari also announced a slew of measures to help the nearly one lakh e-rickshaw drivers, including loans, registration and easing of norms.
Gadkari said e-rickshaws with motor power up to 650W would now be considered ‘non-motorised vehicles’ and will not come under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
“E-rickshaws having motor power up to 650W will now be regarded as non-motorised vehicles. Transport department and traffic police can not challan them from tomorrow,” claimed Gadkari. BJP MPs Ramesh Bidhuri, Meenakshi Lekhi and Manoj Tiwari were also present at the rally.
“Amendments will have to be made in the Motor Vehicles Act through an ordinance if the new rules have to come into effect immediately,’’ a source said.
Transport department and traffic police said they have not received any orders in this regard.
Stressing that Modi’s directive was to rid the country of poverty, Gadkari said, “We will ensure employment to eradicate poverty, as poor is just poor and not from a particular caste or religion, such as Hindu, Muslim or Dalit. I have written to PM Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley requesting that e-rickshaw owners should get credit at three per cent interest without guarantee.’’
However, Gadkari failed to mention how he would ensure adherence to quality standards as far as e-rickshaws are concerned.
“I request you people not to buy poor quality e-rickshaws to ensure safety of people who will commute in these rickshaws. In many states, e-rickshaws could not take off and I was informed by officials that it was because of quality standard testing required as per Motor Vehicles Act. But now you don’t need to carry out any testing,’’ Gadkari said.
“Four people can sit in an e-rickshaw and 25-50 kg of luggage can be transported on these battery-operated vehicles. You no longer need to go to the state or Central government for registration which will not be carried out by the municipal corporations on payment of Rs 100. The municipal corporations will issue identity cards for e-rickshaw drivers,’’ he said.
The AAP had also tried to mobilise support of auto unions in Delhi before the Assembly elections and were successful in making them a significant part of their vote base. AAP, in fact, had tried to take up the cause of e-rickshaw owners with the Lt-Governor on Monday, but without much success.