Delhi govt to induct only e-autos from now, one-third permits reserved for women

Documents seen by Hindustan Times showed that this month, transport minister Kailash Gahlot approved a proposal to induct women auto drivers. A total of 4,261 auto permits will be up for grabs in Delhi from next month, and of these, at least 1,406 will be reserved for women.
Sunita Chaudhary, Delhi’s first and currently the only woman auto driver, said she applied for a permit for an e-auto. (Hindustan Times)
Sunita Chaudhary, Delhi’s first and currently the only woman auto driver, said she applied for a permit for an e-auto. (Hindustan Times)
Published on Sep 22, 2021 12:02 AM IST
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By, New Delhi

Soon, Delhi will have women driving auto-rickshaws on the capital roads, with the government deciding to reserve 33% of at least 4,000 auto permits for women. Besides that, the city administration will also induct only electric autos from now, instead of the CNG ones that have been plying passengers for over two decades, senior transport officials said.

Documents seen by Hindustan Times showed that this month, transport minister Kailash Gahlot approved a proposal to induct women auto drivers. A total of 4,261 auto permits will be up for grabs in Delhi from next month, and of these, at least 1,406 will be reserved for women.

And to apply for a permit, all one needs is a Delhi-issued light motor vehicle driving licence (for driving cars), which means the new scheme will give young people a means to be self-employed

Also, in a first, the entire fleet of 4,261 auto-rickshaws will be electric. On July 21, HT first reported about the Delhi government’s plan to reserve at least 4,000 fresh auto permits exclusively for e-autos. The move is aimed at giving a further push to the roll-out of the government’s electric vehicle policy, which has been hit by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, high electric vehicle cost and a lack of supporting infrastructure.

Currently, the city has about 95,000 registered auto-rickshaws, all of which run on CNG. There is a cap of 100,000 on the number of autos that can be registered in Delhi.

Transport minister Kailash Gahlot said the Delhi government will provide a subsidy of about 30,000 to each e-auto. The average cost of an e-auto will be around 2.7 lakh after the subsidy which is almost similar to the price of a CNG auto in Delhi. The cost of battery swapping e-autos, after subsidy, will be around 1.8 lakh, the minister said.

. “But, we are trying to make this scheme even more appealing by tying up with CESL (Convergence Energy Services Limited, a company of the Union government) and introducing an additional 5% interest subvention scheme. The talks are on and we are in the final stages of the discussion. With this, we hope many women also will come forward as they will be able to own a vehicle and earn a livelihood. A car taxi becomes way too expensive; so, e-autos will help a lot of people looking to become financially independent, irrespective of gender,” he said.

“At a time when many have lost their livelihoods due to the pandemic, this scheme will give them a chance at self-employment,” Gahlot said.

Sunita Chaudhary, Delhi’s first and currently the only woman auto driver, said she applied for a permit for an e-auto as soon as she got wind of the e-auto roll-out from the motor licensing officer (MLO) at Rajpur Road a few days ago.

“I have submitted my application to the MLO and to the chief minister’s office as well. This scheme looks very promising because with an EV, I will not have to queue up at CNG stations and waste precious duty hours. The e-auto models which the government is likely to approve are from reputed manufacturers. They are not going to be like e-rickshaws that are dangerous in terms of road safety as well as charging. So, it will be like an elite club and we hope many passengers will take rides just to experience a journey in an e-auto,” she said.

Chaudhary (45), started driving an auto-rickshaw in 2003. It took her three years to merely get the permit that is required to ride an auto in Delhi. “They just kept refusing to give me a PSV (public service vehicle) badge and kept finding some excuse or the other. I kept going back every month and finally, after three years, they agreed to give me a PSV badge. So, it is not for no reason that we do not see women auto-rickshaw drivers in Delhi. You will still find women e-rickshaw drivers because for e-rickshaws, a PSV badge is not required. Now, I hear the state transport department is relaxing its norms for more women to join the ranks,” she said.

A senior transport official, on condition of anonymity, said the department will soon start granting auto permits on the basis of the light motor vehicle driving licence of the applicant. “It is true that the rule has been stringent until now. To attract women drivers, we will be removing the clause that made a PSV badge mandatory for getting an auto permit. Once launched, applications of all those who have a light motor vehicle (LMV) driving licence in Delhi will be accepted. Next, a computerised draw of lots will be conducted to select the permit holders. Once that is done, the selected applicants will get one month’s time to get a PSV badge for which the transport department will provide a one-stop solution,” the official said.

That means any person, especially a woman, who has a licence to drive a car will be eligible to buy a subsidised e-auto, drive it and earn a living.

The official further said the department is in talks with all related auto-rickshaw dealers to facilitate these processes at the time of purchasing the e-auto itself. “The idea is to make the auto-rickshaw dealers a one-stop window for completion of the entire process of enrolling with the transport department as an e-auto driver,” the official said.

Chadhary said, “I am eagerly looking forward to this scheme because finally, my dream of buying an auto will come true. Right now, I have to pay 350 every day to the owner of the auto and then the cost of CNG also comes out of my pocket. So, my net earnings are meagre.”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sweta Goswami writes on urban development, transport, energy and social welfare in Delhi. She prefers to be called a storyteller and has given voice to several human interest stories. She is currently cutting her teeth on multimedia storytelling.

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