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HindustanTimes Sun,26 Oct 2014

Delhi: Cops’ crackdown, hassled commuters mark day one of e-rickshaw ban

Ritam Halder & Soumya Pillai, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, August 02, 2014
First Published: 00:23 IST(2/8/2014) | Last Updated: 00:25 IST(2/8/2014)

Thousands of e-rickshaws went off the roads of the Capital on Friday, after Delhi high court directed the city government to stop the battery-powered vehicles from plying on the roads “as of now”.

With the congestion on the roads, often associated to these electric-powered vehicles, gone, a number of residents heaved a sigh of relief on Friday. Others, however, said they dearly missed the convenience that these pocket-friendly smaller vehicles provided, ever since they appeared in the Capital two years ago.

A number of pockets of the city, like the clogged center of the Walled City, Chandni Chowk, witnessed less chaos on Friday much to the delight of the residents.

General secretary of Chandni Chowk Sarv Vyapar Mandal told Hindustan Times that the small roads in his area had much less traffic as all the e-rickshaws stayed off them on Friday.

“The e-rickshaws had added to the congestion. Banning them has reduced the vehicular traffic on the streets here though,” Bhargava said.

Metro stations all over the city, which till Thursday buzzed with the sound of e-rickshaw drivers calling out for passengers, too went quiet on Friday courtesy the high court ban.

Aniruddh Bharadwaj, a resident of Dilshad Garden, was surprised to find the roads near his colony relatively empty on Friday morning. Bharadwaj, in order to reach the metro station, had to walk till the main road and then take a cycle rickshaw from there which charged him `20 extra.

 “Till yesterday I used to get an e-rickshaw from my colony gate that charged me just `10 till the metro station. This ban, however, has now come as a major inconvenience for commuters like me. These vehicles were a cost-effective mode of travelling,” said Bharadwaj.

The fear of their vehicles being impounded running high, most e-rickshaw drivers preferred to stay at home and not hit the roads, especially in areas like Chandni Chowk, Kashmere Gate, Connaught Place and Delhi University’s North Campus. These areas, where the battery operated rickshaws had emerged as a primary mode of travel for commuters, saw people facing a lot of hassles.

“The e-rickshaws here were the best way to cover short distances. We had to walk all the way to college today because it is pointless to pay extra money for a cycle-rickshaw, which anyways was going to take more time to reach,” said Sonal Kathuria, a student of north campus’ Daulat Ram College.Many residents, however, supported the ban. Rajiv Kakaria of Greater Kailash I RWA said regulating these battery-run vehicles would be difficult as they did not come under Motor Vehicles Act. “Getting a licence for the drivers will be easy and the fee too is as low as `100. The drivers do not need to insure their vehicles, they can park for free anywhere and can also charge their vehicles free of cost from street lights, though not on paper. There needs to be clear guidelines as to how traffic rules will be imposed on these vehicles or compensation paid in case of damage to life and property,” Kakaria said.


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