E-rickshaws wreak havoc on Delhi roads: Know why High Court’s ban is justified

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E-rickshaws are becoming a menace on the roads.
The battery - powered rickshaws which were brought on Indian roads with the aim of reducing pollution in the country have rather wreaked havoc on the roads and are posing a threat to people's lives. And the latest shocking incident of a two-year-old boy slipping from his mother's arms after she was hit by an e-rickshaw in Trilokpuri, East Delhi, on Wednesday morning has raised more questions on these battery powered vehicles. The child after slipping from the hands of his mother fell into a pan of hot oil and sustained 100 per cent burn injuries leading to the three-year-old's death.

This is not the first such incident, earlier also incidents have occurred which brought to fore the cracks in the regulatory framework which have failed to curb such incidents.

E-rickshaws a menace on wheels

As the e-rickshaws don't come under the ambit of Motor Vehicle Act, and ply in the city without licences and registration, they have been a cause of many accidents in the capital.

As per a Hindustan Times report, "Seeking to rein in and regulate e-rickshaws plying in the city, the Delhi Traffic Police on Wednesday informed the High Court that the battery-powered vehicles had been involved in more than 36 accidents this year alone. Two passengers had lost their lives. Till June 2014, a total of 137 cases had been registered against e-rickshaw drivers for rash and negligent driving."

In the past, repeated requests were made to stop e-rickshaws from plying Delhi, but they seemed to have fallen on deaf ears. But today, (on Thursday) the Delhi High court asked the Delhi Government to ban these rickshaws in the capital for now.

E-rickshaws - An opportunity to make political capital

Former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit inaugurated an e-rickshaw in 2012 but in 2013, her government only issued a notice declaring them illegal.

Till June 2014, 137 cases had been registered against e-rickshaw drivers

These rickshaws have been operating in a legal vacuum in the national capital for long and the pertinent question which comes to mind is why is not the government doing anything about it? Well, a TOI report says that the Transport Minister, Nitin Gadkari on June 17 announced that those behind the wheels don't need licenses, and will also not be subjected to road regulations. Thus, these rickshaws can't be penalised for traffic violations until new regulations are created.

This seems to be a move to counter AAP and Congress who earlier took up the cause of e-rickshaws for political gains. And by making this move BJP has denied all other parties like AAP and Congress, an opportunity to make political capital out of it.

This seems to be a win- win for BJP but many innocent people are facing the brunt because of this political game.

E-rickshaws banned in Delhi, for now

Taking cognizance of the matter, the Delhi High Court on Thursday ordered an immediate ban on plying of e-rickshaws on national capital's roads, saying that these rickshaws are "hazardous to other traffic on the road as well as to citizens".

The court has asked the Delhi government to ban these battery-operated motor vehicles till further order.

The court while passing this order said the following:

"You (Delhi government) stop them in the meantime. Why allow somebody to continuously take the law in their own hands? These e-rickshaws don't have insurance, registration. Even the drivers don't have driving licenses. There is no bar on the number of passengers they can carry."

"As far as the present situation is concerned, the plying of e-rickshaws is illegal. Delhi government should ban plying of e-rickshaws without fail. Unregulated plying of vehicles on roads of Delhi prima facie is hazardous to other traffic on the road as well as to citizens."

The environment-friendly aspect of the vehicle is appreciable but the lack of regulations; security concerns etc. are posing a threat to the citizens' lives.

These vehicles must not be banished, but should be properly regulated under laws and should not be allowed to function without stipulated safety norms. The e-rickshaws, like all other motorized vehicles should be brought under the Motor Vehicles Act and all the laws which are applicable to other vehicles should be applied on them too to prevent all such mishaps.

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