Batting for e-rickshaw operators, AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal today urged Lt Governor Najeeb Jung not to allow state authorities to take punitive actions against them such as issuing of challans and impounding of their battery-operated vehicles.
Kejriwal along with 3 AAP MLAs met Jung at Raj Niwas to discuss the crackdown by Transport Department on e-rickshaws following government's order rendering them illegal. "I requested the Lt Governor to save the livelihood and employment of over 2 lakh drivers and ask transport officials not to impound these battery-operated rickshaws," he said.
Kejriwal said that he will also meet Union Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari so that e-rickshaw drivers are not challaned. "I am writing to Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari requesting him not to issue challan to e-rickshaw drivers," Kejriwal said. He also urged for the immediate revocation of the notification withdrawing exemption for e-rickshaws in the Motor Vehicle Rules.
The former Delhi Chief Minister said that Jung told him that the matter is in the High Court and he will make sure no more e-rickshaws are challaned till the orders are passed. In a memorandum given to Jung, Kejriwal said that in its order dated 14 February 2014, the Delhi High Court had appreciated use of e-rickshaws as it is eco-friendly and and it also does away the archaic practice of man pulling a man.
The AAP leader said that since the case is sub-judice, challaning and impounding of these rickshaws should immediately be stopped till the pendency of the case and the rickshaws impounded so far should be released. Hundreds of e-rickshaw drivers had yesterday gathered outside L-G secretariat and raised slogans against the transport department, demanding relief after the Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways (MoRTH) rendered them illegal via a notification issued on April 24.
"E-rickshaws were exempted from Motor Vehicle Rules but through an amendment this exemption has been done away with. This has made plying of e-rickshaws illegal. Since then, these e-rickshaws are being issued challans and are being impounded on a large scale," a statement issued by the party said.
"Declaring them illegal would render more than 2 lakh people unemployed. Their families will find it very difficult to survive. E-rickshaws have also brought down the crime rate as many unemployed youth are now engaged in plying of e-rickshaws. These rickshaws also contribute to government revenue as the government charges VAT, excise duty and import duty on purchase of these rickshaws," the statement added.
He said that a policy on e-rickshaws needs to be formulated.
In his memorandum, Kejriwal said that these rickshaws are being allowed to ply in Ghaziabad under their own policy and each rickshaw is given a municipal registration number. "If it can be done in Ghazibad, why not in Delhi?" he asked.