In a move that will bring cheer to lakhs of e-rickshaw and e-cart drivers plying across India, Parliament on Wednesday approved a bill that will legalise plying of the battery-operated vehicles.
Delhi will be the biggest beneficiary with nearly one lakh e-rickshaw operators.
The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2015, which was cleared by the Lok Sabha on March 3, was passed by a voice vote Wednesday.
Replying to the debate on the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari said not only would the poor benefit from it but it would give a boost to the ‘Make in India’ initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the battery-operated vehicle was being manufactured indigenously.
On the issue of providing credit to buy e-rickshaws, Gadkari said he had approached the finance minister and the prime minister and they had assured it would be considered.
“It is a fact that man pulling man is inhuman. Nearly one crore people are doing this. This should come to a stop,” he said, adding one crore poor people would benefitted.
Maintaining that the government wanted e-rickshaws to be owned by drivers, he said: “Women and physically challenged people will be given licences.... Driving licence has been made a compulsory requirement. A permanent licence would be given after a year of learning.”
According to the bill, an e-rickshaw driver after qualifying the requisite driving test will be issued a learner’s licence and will be granted a general Light Motor Vehicle (LMV) licence, mandatory for driving a transport vehicle, after 30 days.
Currently, despite the limited speed and power of e-rickshaws, drivers of such battery-operated vehicles were equated with drivers of commercial transport vehicles and had to wait for a year before getting a LMV licence. The road transport and highways ministry had last October notified the rules legalising the battery-operated three-wheeler to carry four passengers and fixed a maximum speed of 25 kilometres per hour.
E-rickshaws had gone off roads after the Delhi high court had banned them in July last year on safety concerns.