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E-rickshaws : Centre's delay in framing rules is snatching away the livelihood of poor

It is shocking that the BJP’s central government is dragging its feet on the issue of amending the law to regularize and regulate the e-rickshaws for ensuring their plying in a legal way in the national capital. The Aam Aadmi Party  appeals to the central government to follow the Delhi High Court's order of framing guidelines at the earliest to ensure that e-rickshaws are able to ply on the streets.


E-rickshaws have emerged as an energy efficient, non-polluting, slow moving, economical and easily maneuverable mode of public transport, due to their small size and provide excellent last-mile connectivity for metro and bus users.


They are more humane than traditional cycle rickshaws and environment-friendly. More than 3.5 lakh families through the operation of over two lakh e-rickshaws in multiple shifts are dependent on them for their livelihood.


Despite the many positive aspects and its necessity for lakhs of families in Delhi, successive governments have switched their stand on e-rickshaws and have failed to frame a clear policy guideline, creating havoc in the lives of the common man in Delhi.


The AAP stands by the e-rickshaw drivers and their families and pledges to ensure that their interests and rights are protected. 


During the Congress regime in Delhi, Mrs Sheila Dikshit failed to create guidelines and policy directions to regulate e-rickshaws despite unveiling e-rickshaws for the Commonwealth Games in 2009-10. Meeting after meeting held right unto 2012-13, with the then Transport Minister, Transport Commissioner and Joint Commissioner, Police (Traffic) did not yield any results.


This three year policy paralysis exhibited another example of the Congress's ineptitude. Subsequently, a notification based on an interpretation of the Motor Vehicle Act, which said that only vehicles in the range of 250 watts and speed up to 25 km per hour are exempted, rendered e-rickshaws illegal overnight, bringing chaos to the Nation's capital. 


After the formation of the new government at the Centre in May 2014, the BJP-led government through its minister for roads, Shri Nitin Gadkari made the empty and unkept promise of extending that exemption to vehicles of the range of 650 W.


The Modi government has not delivered on any of its promises to the e-rickshaw drivers. The AAP believes that while it is imperative for the government to ensure that the livelihood of these lakhs of families is not snatched away. We also believe that these e-rickshaws should be carefully regulated to ensure safety for customers and provide legal support and insurance to the e-rickshaw drivers. 


Interestingly, the government has all the tools required to frame cogent, comprehensive and efficient rules for regulation at the earliest. TERI (The Energy and Research Insitute) has already submitted a report to the Transport Department with its policy views on e-ricksahws, while Tripura already has framed the Tripura Battery Operated Rickshaws Rules 2014 as a model for state regulation.


Combining these two frameworks while contextualizing it for New Delhi would quite easily serve as a roadmap for Delhi. 


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