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High Court pulls up govt: Stop passing the buck, regulate city’s e-rickshaws

Unchecked growth - Battery rickshaws mushroom in capital.

New Delhi |
March 21, 2014 1:01:23 am
A PIL has said e-rickshaws were putting passengers at risk. (IE) A PIL has said e-rickshaws were putting passengers at risk. (IE)

Asking the Delhi government and the MCD to stop passing the buck on regulating e-rickshaws in the capital, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday said the government “must have a proper policy” on the mode of transport.

A bench of Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Jayant Nath asked the government to formulate a policy on e-rickshaws after noting that they were often seen ferrying more passengers than their capacity and cargo. “They are not supposed to carry 10 passengers. Who gave them the authority?” the court observed.

“You must have a proper policy on e-rickshaws, on the number of persons they can seat, proper space on these rickshaws, total weight they can carry, etc.,” the court observed, while pulling up the Delhi government and the MCD for “passing the buck”.

The court was hearing a PIL filed by social worker Shahnawaz Hussain, seeking a ban on e-rickshaws, contending that they had no registration numbers and the vehicles were putting passengers at risk since the latter cannot claim insurance in case of an accident.

The lack of any proper policy on e-rickshaws has led to the mushrooming of these vehicles on Delhi’s roads. The Delhi government recently issued a notice, asking owners to register these battery-operated rickshaws under the Delhi Motor Vehicle Act. While there is no official figure on the number of e-rickshaws plying in Delhi, it is estimated the number is more than one lakh.

The popular e-rickshaws have, in fact, edged out cycle-rickshaws. “They have overtaken cycle rickshaws in popularity and are giving stiff competition to auto-rickshaws. A proper policy, though, is required,” Delhi Battery Rickshaw Chalak Union convener Anand Sahu said.

Gurmeet Singh, part of another association on e-rickshaws, said: “It is an environment-friendly option and needs to be promoted. We have nothing against being registered, but we want the government to provide us with certain benefits like other transport unions get.”

Under the Delhi Motor Vehicle Act, vehicles with motor power less than 250W and speed less than 25 kmph are regarded as non-motorised. The battery-operated rickshaws are supposed to have motor power less than 250W. However, most e-rickshaws in the city have batteries of higher wattage.

A report by The Energy and Resources Institute found that all the e-rickshaws inspected were running on batteries of more than 650MW, at times 1,000MW, a government official said.

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