Updated: March 12, 2015 1:41:30 am
The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday cleared the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, establishing battery-powered e-rickshaws as a valid form of commercial transport and paving the way for their operation in the NCR region and elsewhere in the country.
The bill, which has already been passed in the Lok Sabha, was approved by a voice vote in the upper house. Once enacted into law, the bill would enable drivers of e-rickshaws to obtain commercial driving licence. It will also do away with the requirement of a one-year wait for obtaining the driving licence after a learning licence has been granted.
In the case of e-rickshaws and e-carts, this requirement would only be for a month, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said in the House. During this month, the drivers would need to undergo a training to drive the e-rickshaws.
Gadkari said the eligibility criterion of “8th standard pass” would also be relaxed for grant of licences for e-rickshaws and e-carts.
The bill defines what e-rickshaws and e-carts are — three-wheeled vehicles run by battery power of no more than 4,000 watts.
Gadkari said e-rickshaws would be meant to carry four passengers and luggage up to 50 kg, covering a distance of not more than 25 km in a single trip.
These e-rickshaws had gone off Delhi roads after the Delhi High Court had banned them last year, raising questions over their safety. Since these were not covered by the Motor Vehicles Act, these vehicles were not eligible for insurance earlier. After the passage of the bill, insurance can be obtained for e-rickshaws.
Gadkari said about 22,000 licences for e-rickshaws had already been granted in Delhi.
The ministers said there were more than one lakh cycle-rickshaws in Delhi alone and more than one crore in the entire country. The government hopes that a large number of these rickshaw-pullers would upgrade to e-rickshaws.
“A man pulling a rickshaw is an inhuman practice. It must stop,” he said, adding that the government would offer attractive loans to people to buy e-rickshaws. He said people belonging to the SC/ST and OBC community, physically challenged and women would get loans at 3-4 per cent interest. When other members demanded that zero per cent loans should be provided, Gadkari said the government would consider the suggestion.
To prevent the emergence of e-rickshaw cartels, Gadkari said only those with e-rickshaw driving licence would be able to avail the loans and buy the e-rickshaws. He said the government would not insist on a complete standardisation of the design as that could likely increase the cost of the e-rickshaw.
“We want to keep the price of the e-rickshaw in the 70,000-80,000 range,” he said. Manufacturers would be asked to adhere to a broader design but would be free to make variations by using different auto parts available in the market. “These auto parts are already standardised,” he said.
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