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27% e-ricks in Delhi being operated by drivers with only a learner’s licence

To discuss issues involving e-rickshaws across the country, including this one, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari has convened a meeting of all stakeholders on Monday morning.

delhi Updated: Oct 28, 2017 23:35 IST
Hindustan Times
e ricks,e rickshaws,delhi
To discuss issues involving e-rickshaws across the country, including this one, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari has convened a meeting of all stakeholders on Monday morning.

As the number of battery-operated e-rickshaws surges in Delhi, the government faces a problem it had not anticipated earlier.

Out of the 37,500 registered e-rickshaws in the city, 10,000 – nearly 27% – are being operated by drivers with only a learner’s license, transport department records show.

This is not only a violation of the Motor Vehicles Act, but also a major safety hazard as they carry thousands of passengers every day.

According to the MV Act, anybody driving a vehicle with a learner’s licence needs to have an instructor beside him.

To discuss issues involving e-rickshaws across the country, including this one, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari has convened a meeting of all stakeholders on Monday morning.

The learners’ licence problem stems from a guideline framed by its own transport department in 2015. In a bid to promote these eco-friendly vehicles, which serve as an effective medium for plugging last-mile connectivity, the department had agreed to register e-rickshaws against learners’ licences.

But two years later, only 27,000 vehicle owners have got their permanent licences made, government records show. The department has no mechanism to track the 10,000 registered owners and get their driving test done.

Hindustan Times found out that the same process of registering e-rickshaws is being carried out even now.

“The rules say we have to register these vehicles with learner’s licence. So, we have to do it,” said one of the officials in charge of e-rickshaws in Delhi.

Over 60% e-rickshaws illegal

The bigger problem is that of illegal e-rickshaws.

Estimates with the government show there are more than one lakh e-rickshaws on Delhi’s roads. Only 37% are registered.

“Due to improper policies and inaction by the states, the number of unapproved e- rickshaws plying on the roads is increasing. The majority of such unapproved e-rickshaws are in states like Delhi, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh,” the Battery Rickshaw Welfare Association (BRWA) said in a letter to Gadkari.

This is adversely and gravely affecting the lawful manufacturers of e-rickshaws. At present unapproved e-rickshaws are preferred, as there is no policy for their registration, it added.

First Published: Oct 28, 2017 23:33 IST