Reversing the order of his own Ministry, Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari announced on Tuesday that battery-operated rickshaws will not be barred from plying on the city roads and will be considered as non-motorised vehicles.
The decision brings relief to thousands of e-rickshaw operators in Delhi, who were being prosecuted by the Delhi Government’s Transport Department and the Delhi Traffic Police since June 6 after the Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways (MoRTH) rendered e-rickshaws illegal via a notification issued on April 24.
Addressing a rally of e-rickshaw owners and drivers at Ramlila Maidan here, Mr. Gadkari said e-rickshaws with motor power till 650W would now be considered as non-motorised vehicles.
“E-rickshaws running with motors of up to 650W will now be regarded as non-motorised vehicles. Now, the Transport Department and the Traffic Police cannot challan them,” Mr. Gadkari said, flanked by a galaxy of Delhi BJP leaders, including three newly elected MPs, legislators and office bearers of the MCD.
As per the existing rules, battery-operated vehicles with motor power of less than 250W and having speed of less than 25 kmph were regarded as non-motorised vehicles. However, the amendment by the recent notification to the Motor Vehicles Act withdrew this exemption, rendering all such vehicles motorised vehicles. All motorised vehicles are required to be registered with the Transport Department and the drivers are supposed to procure public service vehicle (PSV) badges.
However, with the announcement of the Transport Minister, the Transport Department can exercise no power in regulating these vehicles and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi would instead regularise e-rickshaws by forming a policy for their smooth operations.
“Owners of e-rickshaws have to get their vehicles registered with the MCD by paying a fee of just Rs.100. After registering the e-rickshaw, the MCD will have to give identity cards to drivers so that they could easily earn their livelihood,” Mr. Gadkari said.
“Besides, e-rickshaws would be allowed to ferry four persons on board besides the driver. Drivers of such vehicle can also ferry luggage up to 50 kg with four persons,” he added.
The Transport Minister also announced that Deen Dayal E-rickshaw Scheme, under which the government would provide loans to rickshaw pullers to buy battery-rickshaws, would be launched soon.
“I have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to ensure that those interested in buying e-rickshaws can easily get a loan at 3 per cent annual interest rate. Deen Dayal E-rickshaw Scheme will be launched in this regard,” he added.
Mr. Gadkari, however, said the owners of the rickshaws will also have to be the driver of the vehicle and it will be ensured that these vehicles are not rented out.