In a move that will bring cheers to lakhs of e-rickshaw drivers plying across India, the Union cabinet on Wednesday approved an ordinance to legalise the battery- operated vehicles.
“The ordinance to legalise e-rickshaws was approved by the cabinet. This will bring relief to lakhs of e-rickshaw drivers across India. These battery-operated vehicles were the only source of livelihood for drivers who mostly came from poor families,” said road transport minister Nitin Gadkari at a press conference.
The cabinet approved the ordinance after the government was unable to pass the amendment to the Motor Vehicles Act in the just-concluded winter session of Parliament.
The bill was passed in the Lok Sabha but with the opposition disrupting Rajya Sabha proceedings for most of the session, it could not be cleared in the Upper House.
Now, e-rickshaw operators won’t have to wait a year to get a licence to drive their battery-operated vehicles. If e-rickshaw drivers pass the driving test, they will be issued learner’s licences. They will get general Light Motor Vehicle (LMV) licences, mandatory for driving transport vehicles, after 30 days.
Till now, despite the limited speed and power of e-rickshaws, the operators were equated with drivers of commercial transport vehicles and had to wait for a year to get a LMV licence.
The road transport and highways ministry had in October notified the rules for plying of e-rickshaw across the country, legalising the battery-operated three wheelers to carry four passengers and fixing a maximum speed of 25 kilometres per hour.
The ministry’s move to legalize e-rickshaws came after the Delhi High Court on July 31 banned plying of the vehicles in Delhi on the grounds that they were a traffic and safety hazard.
Earlier on October 8, the road transport ministry notified the Central Motor Vehicles (Sixteenth Amendment) Rules, 2014 that made a driver’s licence mandatory for operating such vehicles.