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Centre: Let local bodies regulate e-rickshaws

Finding a way out for e-rickshaws, the Union road transport ministry has sent an advisory to state governments to involve local municipal bodies for regulating this controversial mode of urban transport.

The local bodies will frame rules regarding driving licences, speed limit, design, colour and other specifications, according to a senior ministry official.

The ministry feels e-rickshaws should be regulated under the Acts pertaining to local bodies, municipal bodies and the police, which provide for registration of non-motorised vehicles and traffic regulations.

The ministry plans to amend the Motor Vehicles Act (MVA) to exclude e-rickshaws from its purview. It had prepared a draft cabinet note on this and circulated it to different ministries some weeks earlier. After getting the views of the other ministries, a final note would be prepared for cabinet approval. It was decided that e-rickshaws with battery power of 650W and below should be taken out of the ambit of the MVA.

The advisory being sent to the states says, “The definition of ‘motor vehicle’.. in Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, has been amended inter alia to exempt three-wheeled electric motor-propelled vehicles with engine capacity less than or equal to 650W from the purview of (the) Act. As a consequence, (such vehicles)… are now covered under entry 8 of List II (state list), on which state governments have powers to make law.”

Only the owners should be permitted to drive such vehicles, with not more than four passengers and a maximum of 50 kg of passenger luggage. The advisory note also suggests a a uniform colour code — sky-blue, yellow or purple — for such vehicles and that the name, address and phone number of the driver be displayed prominently.

The decision to amend the MVA came after the high court here had wanted action. Last week, it had banned e-rickshaws from plying on roads in this city, citing safety concerns.

The HC has said it would not lift the ban till the Centre framed guidelines to regulate e-rickshaws. “We are not happy that people are losing their livelihood but people are also dying (in accidents involving such vehicles) . We cannot allow this in the capital of the country, which is the showcase for India. Law and order must prevail,” the judges explained.

The matter will come again for a hearing on August 14. The HC order came on a public interest suit that argued e-rickshaws put passengers at risk, since they cannot claim insurance in case of an accident. The suit also said e-rickshaws were designed to carry four people, including the driver, but most routinely take up to eight passengers.

The court had earlier noted reports of the death of a three-year-old boy and the injuries suffered by his mother in East Delhi in an accident involving an e-rickshaw.

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