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E-rickshaw growth unregulated, govt wants safety checks


The Indian Express, New Delhi, September 2, 2013

The increase in the number of e-rickshaws plying unregulated on Delhi's roads has raised safety and traffic concerns, prompting the Transport department to enlist the help of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) to carry out a study in this regard.

The study is expected to help the Delhi government formulate a policy to govern the battery-operated rickshaws. The first report is expected to be submitted in five months while the final report is expected to be ready in nine months.

"The government has decided to conduct a study on various parameters to ascertain the power, capacity and speed to enforce minimum regulations for these vehicles keeping in mind the safety and security of the passengers and the driver. TERI has been asked to carry out a study to help us formulate guidelines," transport commissioner Puneet Goel said.

Under the Delhi Motor Vehicles Act, vehicles with motor power less than 250W and speed less than 25kmph are regarded as non-motorised.

The battery-operated rickshaws are meant to have motor power less than 250W. However, most e-rickshaws in the city have batteries of higher wattage, as they carry more than two passengers. The government had announced a ban on further sale of such vehicles till a policy to govern e-rickshaws was in place.

These rickshaws can be found everywhere, from the narrow bylanes of Paharganj and Chandni Chowk to India Gate and Delhi University.

A majority of these vehicles operate with four batteries, providing 650-850W. Designed to ferry four people, these vehicles usually carry more.

The scope of study to be carried out by TERI is expected to provide the Transport department with a current pattern of operation of the e-rickshaws. The study will be carried out in two phases. "The first phase will determine the penetration and the pattern of operation of e-rickshaws, identify areas in Delhi where these operators are prominent and understand the nature of key manufacturers and consumer experience,'' an official said.

The second phase will be carried out with the help of the Transport department. "This phase will look into the technology and design, especially in relation to their battery capacity, battery life, power, seating capacity, maximum speed and mode of charging of batteries," the official said.