E-rickshaw union members allege that several people who own hundreds of e-rickshaws have rented them out for commercial gains

Following the decision of the Delhi Transport Department to register battery-operated rickshaws under the Motor Vehicles Act, operators have urged the administration to come up with a policy to curb cartelisation of e-rickshaws.

As per estimates, about one lakh of e-rickshaws operate across the city. E-rickshaw union members allege that several people who own hundreds of e-rickshaws have rented them out for commercial gains.

“Either the government should put a cap on the number of vehicles an individual can own or at least regulate the rate at which the vehicles are rented out,” said Delhi Battery Rickshaw Chalak Union convener Anand Sahu.

“Several cycle rickshaw drivers have switched to e-rickshaws. A battery rickshaw costs around Rs.70,000, while a cycle rickshaw costs around Rs.10,000. So a poor rickshaw driver can’t afford it. Several people are using this to their advantage. Since there is no fixed rate, owners charge arbitrarily — anything from Rs.300 to Rs.800 per day,” he added.

E-rickshaw operators also want the Delhi Government to either provide an insurance cover to the drivers or direct owners renting out these vehicles to provide one.

“If the government does not put a cap on the number of e-rickshaws an individual can own, it should formulate an insurance policy under which the vehicle owner should provide insurance to the driver,” said Jaswant Singh, the e-rickshaw union pradhan at Delhi University.

Battery-operated rickshaw drivers also want the government to issue route permits for better traffic control.

After complaints about formation of auto-rickshaw cartels in the city by auto-rickshaw owners and private financiers, the Sheila Dikshit Government had introduced the “one-person, one-permit” policy.

The Transport Department had earlier on Friday issued a notice asking all e-rickshaw operators to get their vehicle type approved from a recognised government institute and register them accordingly under the Motor Vehicles Act.

The decision to register battery rickshaws under the Act was taken following a study by environment body TERI. The study found that most of these vehicles operating in Delhi use an engine powered by over 250 watt batteries and exceed the speed limit of 25kmph for non-motorised vehicles, officials added.

The Department had also directed all e-rickshaw operators to get permits for driving light commercial vehicles, a driving licence and PSV badges within six months.

It had also decided to bring e-rickshaw dealers under its purview and asked them to get trade licences and dealerships issued in their names within three months.

They had been directed not to sell the vehicles till they get registered.

Approval for the e-rickshaw vehicle type, as specified by the Delhi Government, can be obtained from: the Vehicle Research and Development Establishment in Ahmednagar; the Automotive Research Association of India in Pune; the Indian Institute of Petroleum in Dehradun; and the International Centre for Automotive Technology at Manesar.

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