Guwahati, Monday, October 5, 2015
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Electric rickshaws: a treat or threat?

 GUWAHATI, Oct 4 - As if the terror caused on the roads by the existing unruly modes of public transport like trekkers and city buses is not enough, Guwahati now has added another threat dimension to the life of commuters.

Adding the fear factor on the roads are the ‘controversial’ electric rickshaws, which are now plying in increased numbers in various busy roads and bye-lanes without any registration or approval of any government authority, thereby risking lives of the common man on the road every single second. Further, as these vehicles do not fall under any law, they cannot even be fined by the law-enforcing agencies.

It is even more ironic that the State government, which till date, does not have a specified policy on e-rickshaws, has allowed the vehicles to be rolled out in Guwahati. It is being questioned as to how a vehicle designed and meant for public transport is plying without any safety norm or passenger-carrying guideline.

The battery-operated e-rickshaws, which run at a fair speed between 25- 40 kilometres per hour, are neither registered, nor do their drivers need to obtain any kind of licence, making it even more risky for those who decide to board them.

At present, more than 100 e-rickshaws are plying in Guwahati, especially in Narengi, Rupnagar, Ganeshguri and Bhetapara areas.

“This is a unique situation. Neither the GMC Act nor the Motor Vehicle Act covers the e-rickshaws at present. The GMC reasons that as it is a motorised vehicle, it cannot fall under its ambit. Similarly, the transport department too has no concrete policy as of now. Under the existing situation, even police cannot issue challan (fine) against the e-rickshaws as they do not fall under any rule or act,” said a transport department official.

While the Guwahati Municipal Corporation refuses to enroll the e-rickshaws into its fold, the transport department too appears clueless about the unmonitored and unauthorised plying.

Who will take the responsibility if someone gets killed or injured by these unregistered motorised vehicles or while travelling in the e-rickshaws? And if the cycle rickshaws, which hardly run in a life-threatening speed, can be regulated (GMC), why are these e-rickshaws being given a free run, that too at the cost of the commuter’s life?

Under the given circumstances, it would be virtually impossible to trace any e-rickshaw if it manages to flee the scene after indulging in a road mishap, admits a Guwahati-based traffic police official.

“We all know about the incident where a child met with a tragic end after being hit by an unregistered e-rickshaw in Delhi. We do not want such tragedies to repeat in Guwahati or any other place,” Olokesh Pathak, a resident of Nizarapar said.

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