The absence of any kind of measures to regulate e-rickshaws is one of the reasons why so many of them have started plying on Delhi roads over the past one year.
In August 2013, the Transport department enlisted the help of The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI) to carry out a study on e-rickshaws. The draft, submitted by TERI in early 2014, highlighted the need to restrict e-rickshaws to certain parts of the city.
In a meeting called by the chief secretary in April, TERI officials informed the government that e-rickshaws were being sold openly in the market. According to TERI survey, 80 per cent of those who commuted in e-rickshaws said they felt unsafe. This led to a series of meetings between the transport department and Ministry of Road Transport and Highways which culminated in the Road Transport ministry notification on April 24, rendering all e-rickshaws illegal.
“About 90,000 e-rickshaws in Delhi have been very unsafely designed without caring for the centre of gravity, their weight to passenger ratio, construction material and certification by a third party,” S P Singh, senior fellow at Indian Federation of Transport Research and Training, said.
“To earn more, the drivers ferry more passengers than the rickshaws can accommodate. This makes the vehicle lose its balance and can lead to accidents. No case can be registered against e-rickshaws and no challan can be issued as these vehicles do not fall under the category of ‘motor vehicles’, a traffic official said.
P K Sarkar, former head of the department of transport planning, said, “It is the structure and design of these e-rickshaws that is a problem. The Transport department needs to make sure that the dealers enhance the specification standards of these vehicles. The structure of the vehicle needs to be tested before it is allowed to ply on roads.”
According to Traffic Police data, 25 accidents involving e-rickshaws, one of them fatal, have been reported until May 30 this year since these vehicles hit the roads.