The Centre has directed states to immediately address issues pertaining to registration of e-rickshaws, saying that such vehicles provide last-mile connectivity and are also pollution-free. The directions were sent after Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari chaired a high-level meeting, attended by Transport Commissioners of several states besides E-Rickshaw Advisory Committee members and manufacturers. The Centre last year had removed legal hurdles in the way of running of electric rickshaws as last-mile connectivity by exempting such vehicles from requiring permits for plying on roads. “E-rickshaws are pollution-free, import substitute, cost effective and boon for the poor. The poor are getting employment besides people are getting last-mile connectivity. It is unfortunate that there are issues in some states regarding registration etc. We have issued directions to states to address these (issues),” Gadkari said after the meeting. The minister further said, “We have asked the states to expedite registration using Vahan. Manually pulling rickshaws is a huge pain, and exploitation of the poor is not justified.” If states do not comply, “we will think about legal direction”, Gadkari said.
He said metropolises like Mumbai, Bengaluru and Pune could be left but there is no harm in running services in districts and cities like Varanasi besides Delhi where there is a huge road infrastructure.
No e-rickshaw has been registered till date in nine states including Jammu & Kashmir, Tripura, Maharashtra barring Nagpur, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa and Chandigarh.
Advisory Committee for e-rickshaws chairman Anuj Sharma said the Committee has asked for verification of e-rickshaw parts on the basis of quality and not on the basis of brands.
Also, he said, lakhs of of e-rickshaws are plying illegally in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Tripura, West Bengal as Regional Transport Offices (RTOs) are not cooperating in registration and driving licences.
“Only 35,000 e-rickshaws could be registered in Delhi in three years while 1,500 in West Bengal,” he said adding that besides no subsidy benefits have been given to e-rickshaws as subsidy by FAME is given to only such manufacturers who are recognised by the Society of Manufactures of Electric Vehicle.
The manufacturers body has also appealed for doing away with registration, road tax, HPA and fitness fee. The grouping also cited that manufacturers were facing problems as GST at the time of purchase is 28 per cent and 12 per cent at the time of sale.
Removing legal hurdles for hassle-free operations of the e-rickshaws, the transport ministry last year had exempted such vehicles from requiring permits for plying on roads. Obtaining permits for operating in states were proving to be the biggest obstacle for e-carts and e-rickshaws.
However, the state governments were allowed to impose restrictions under appropriate traffic laws on plying of these vehicles in specific areas or specific routes. The government has already issued guidelines for e-rickshaws, including speed limit, carrying capacity and body specifications. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways earlier had notified rules under the Act to bring e-rickshaws and e-carts within the legal framework, ensuring tests for approval of prototype for safety standards before registration of the vehicles.
As per the notification, e-rickshaws had been allowed to carry four passengers and 40 kg luggage while e-carts would transport goods up to 310 kg.
The rules define e-rickshaw as a special purpose battery operated vehicle ‘having three wheels and intended to provide last mile connectivity for transport of passengers for hire or reward’.
These vehicles are constructed to carry not more than four passengers, excluding the driver and the net power of its motor is not more than 2000 Watts and the maximum speed of the vehicle is not more than 25 kilometres per hour.