Buckling under pressure from auto rikshaw unions, Maharashtra transport minister, Diwakar Raote has refused permission to ply electric-rickshaws in Mumbai saying they are unsuitable for urban traffic.
Raote was speaking to autorickshaw and taxi unions from across the state at a conclave organised on Friday at Yashwantrao Chavan hall, Nariman Point.
Apart from e-rickshaws, he also discussed renewal of fresh auto-taxi permits and waiving of toll charges for vacant taxis.
“E-rickshaws are not suitable for traffic conditions in the city. We are, however, considering waiving toll charges for unoccupied taxis,” Raote said.
On June 9, the central government had issued an advisory to the state transport department for the introduction of e-rickshaws in major cities in the state. E-rickshaws are looked at as an eco-friendly move to bring down air-pollution.
Following this, the state transport department directed the regional transport authorities (RTAs) to conduct a feasibility study and identify routes for e-rickshaws. The study is still underway and a final decision on e-rickshaws will be taken only after the study is completed, said a senior transport official, requesting anonymity.
Experts supported the introduction of electric vehicles to control the increasing air-pollution and emissions in urban areas.
“If the vehicle is not acceptable in its current form it can be improvised with the help of technocrats. Globally, a lot of work is happening on electric vehicles. Besides, it will take us some time to create infrastructure for e-vehicles, so we should start preparing now,” said Rishi Agarwal, a transport expert.
However, auto unions continued to oppose e-rickshaws, as it would mean high operation and maintenance costs, insufficient recharging stations and questions of the safety of drivers and passengers.
“For CNG vehicles, our operation cost is Rs 2.13 a km, which will go up to Rs 7.07 a km in case of e-rickshaws. Also, the open three-wheelers will pose a threat to the lives of drivers as well as passengers,” said Thampy Kurien, general secretary, Mumbai Rickshawmen’s Union.