A Bill seeking to pave the way for plying of e-rickshaws on Delhi roads was passed by the Lok Sabha today.
It is the third ordinance to be replaced by a bill passed by the Lower House since yesterday, the others being the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill.
Replying to the debate on the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said while ensuring that the livelihood of one lakh e-rickshaw drivers is protected, the government would not compromise on the issue of safety.
He said since all e-rickshaws were being manufactured in India, his ministry has asked the association of e-rickshaw owners to ensure stringent quality control of parts used to manufacture the vehicles and 17 standards have been set for the purpose.
Rejecting the contention that the ordinance was aimed at garnering votes for BJP ahead of Delhi assembly polls, Gadkari said as the Rajya Sabha did not pass the bill, government had to promulgate the ordinance to help the e-rickshaw owners.
In an effort to check cartelisation, the driver of the vehicle will be owner and no one else will get the licence, he said.
E-rickshaws, or battery—operated three-wheeler vehicles, had gone off the roads after the Delhi High Court banned their plying in July last on grounds of safety and insurance issues.
An earlier Bill to regularise e-rickshaws was passed by the Lok Sabha in the Winter Session but as it was stuck in the Rajya Sabha, the government issued the ordinance. The earlier bill has since been withdrawn.
The government had in October last notified the rules for plying of e-rickshaws and made driver's licence mandatory for operating them and limiting their speed to 25 kmph.
The new rules provide that e-rickshaws will be allowed to carry four passengers and 40 kg luggage while e-carts would transport goods up to 310 kg.
Earlier participating in the debate, Revolutionary Socialist Party MP N K Premchandran said although he supported the amendments of the bill, he strongly opposed the ordinance route used by the government to amend the Motor Vehicles Act.
"We endorse the government action to get license for e-rickshaw drivers. But we oppose the way, the bill is being brought," he said.
Congress MP Sushmita Dev too slammed the government for using the ordinance route to amend the law and asked whether the government had shown the same interest in bringing the Ordinance if the Gauhati High Court had banned plying of E-rickshaws in Assam.
"The government brought selective ordinances to suit their politics," Dev said.
BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi, who represents New Delhi, said the government should have single-window clearance for easy procuring of licenses by e-rickshaw drivers.
"Also, the government should have places to charge the e-rickshaws so that power theft can be reduced. Parts of e-rickshaws are imported from outside and assembled in India.
"If the government can connect the programme with the 'Make in India' initiative there would be generation of employment through this as well," Lekhi said.