Banning e-rickshaws no solution, stricter rules may help

For many who are dependent on e-rickshaws, coming days would be difficult.

jasleen

Jasleen Kaur | August 2, 2014



In 2009, when the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) extended its services to Noida city, it brought relief for many people.

A respite from the never-ending traffic jams, hours of waiting at bus stops or arguing with autorickshaw drivers, who did not have permit to enter the city and thought it was their right to charge exorbitantly.

A clean, punctual and efficient public transport — Delhi Metro, changed the way Delhiites looked at commutation options in the city. The dependence is quite evident from the all day rush in the metro. While there are many who leave their cars in the parking lots and board the metro to reach their destinations, thousands face the problem of last mile connectivity.

The DMRC has been working hard to extend metro services in different parts of the city, including the nation capital region comprising Noida, parts of Ghaziabad, Gurgaon and Faridabad, but the problem of connectivity beyond metro stations still remains. This is where e-rickshaws come into play. Their numbers have increased exponentially over the past one year, especially in areas near metro stations.

These battery operated vehicles are a source of livelihood for many who cannot afford to buy or take autorickshaws on lease. For a user, it is better because it has fixed rates for covering particular distances and is faster than a cycle rickshaw, which, on the other hand, makes a rider feel guilty too.

But, for many who are dependent on these e-rickshaws, the coming days would be difficult. 

On July 31, the Delhi high court banned e-rickshaws from plying on city roads, observing that they were illegal under the present laws. The court said, “unregulated plying of vehicles on Delhi roads is prima facie a hazard to other traffic on the road as well as the citizens".

It has directed the city government to stop them till a law is framed to regulate them. Though the case has been on for many months now, the court took note of news reports on the death of a three-year-old boy in an accident involving an e-rickshaw.

The court said they are not registered and they do not have insurance as well. The matter has been listed for further hearing on August 14 and till then e-rickshaws have been banned.

The HC direction came on a petition seeking a ban on e-rickshaws, contending that they plied without registration numbers, did not follow traffic rules and overloaded, putting passengers' lives at risk.

Because these vehicles do not require registration and their drivers do not need licenses, they have gone unregulated so far.

Concerns have been raised about their safety, with even children seen operating them.

A complete ban, however, is no solution to the problem. It is a cheap, speedy and hassle-free mode of transport for last mile connectivity, from metro stations and buses. A ban will make it more difficult for commuters and will lead to more cars and cycle rickshaws on the roads.

Letting them operate unbridled is no option either.

The government should ensure stricter rules for e-rickshaw drivers, a driving licence should be mandatory, and they should be made accountable and liable to be punished in case of accidents. It should also regulate their numbers to prevent choking of roads while ensuring a hassle-free ride for commuters.

Police, meanwhile, has to ensure they stick to the designated lanes at all times.

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