E-rickshaws causing snarls, worsen Delhi’s air quality: SC panel
The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA), in its final action plan on air pollution, has recommended a control mechanism to rein in battery-operated rickshaws. Experts had claimed that without any checks and balances these otherwise environment-friendly vehicles are triggering heavy traffic snarls, which in turn are adding to the city’s pollution.Breathless in Delhi Updated: Apr 03, 2017 13:45 IST
The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA), in its final action plan on air pollution, has recommended a control mechanism to rein in battery-operated rickshaws. Experts had claimed that without any checks and balances these otherwise environment-friendly vehicles are triggering heavy traffic snarls, which in turn are adding to the city’s pollution.
Experts said that even though battery-operated rickshaws are encouraged for their zero emission properties and as a last-mile connectivity option, the traffic snarls they are triggering is adding to the pollution as vehicles stuck in the jams need to decelerate, stop and accelerate more frequently.
Experts pointed out that there are no earmarked zones for these battery rickshaws, there are no designated lanes for them, they can pick-up passengers and drop them anywhere and can park anywhere.
“They don’t follow any rules as there are no policy or rules to regulate them. These vehicles cause havoc on the roads,” said an EPCA member. “Battery rickshaws have become an eco-friendly mode of transport providing last-mile connectivity. All we need is a better integration policy. We would recommend a more organised deployment of this fleet and better integration policy. The final plan would be submitted to the apex court early next week,” another EPCA member said.
The draft had suggested introduction of battery-operated vehicles in targeted segments of two-wheelers, three-wheelers and buses as a part of the medium-term action plan to be taken up to check air pollution. It also suggests of an infrastructure for proper disposal of the vehicle’s batteries which would add to the city’s e-waste in future.
“Identify and notify commercial areas in cities — with high footfall and good public transport — which can be pedestrianised, supported by zero emission battery-operated vehicles. Priority may be accorded to battery-operated para-transit as feeders and for last-mile connectivity in such areas,” the action plan suggests.
“Introducing battery-operated vehicles to curb air pollution is fine. But there has to be a mechanism to control them, without which this fleet is leading to more traffic jams, which is adding to the pollution levels,” said a transport department official, who attended the EPCA meeting on Friday to finalise the comprehensive action plan for air pollution.
Officials said that battery-operated electric rickshaws were introduced in Delhi in 2010. Their number has shot up from around 4,000 in 2010 to more than a lakh at present, estimates suggest.
“Merely introducing battery-operated vehicles to curb the use of diesel and curb pollution won’t help. Because if the plan is not executed properly with a proper control mechanism this fleet would add to the pollution by creating more traffic jams. At present Delhi is experiencing more road snarls than it used see before battery rickshaws were allowed” an official said in the meeting.
Government officials attending the meeting suggested that the state government should put in a proper control mechanism and introduce measures such as designated zones outside Metro stations and in market places for battery rickshaws, designated lanes for them to ply and a control on their population and fixing numbers.