e-rickshaws get green signal for city service

The Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) has started issuing special city service permits to electric autorickshaws, fulfilling the long-pending demands of its owners in Kozhikode city. Operators will now be able to conduct services like their traditional counterparts who own petrol and diesel variants with city permits.

The new permit system came into effect following a High Court order obtained by a section of e-vehicle owners in the city. Based on the court order, 36 vehicles got the official permit number. According to officials, there would be altogether 96 e-rickshaws on completion of the first phase of permit allotment process.

Till very recently, traditional autorickshaw operators were up in arms against e-vehicle owners claiming that they were operating illegal service without any official permit. Though no special permit was actually required for e-rickshaw service, traditional operators in the sector were not ready to accept the rule. According to them, the conventional permit system was mandatory for all vehicles to ensure a fair city service amidst the rising number of vehicles.

Following traditional drivers’ opposition, the majority of newly purchased e-rickshaws were forced to stay off the road or conduct only limited services within the city limits. There were also occasions when e-rickshaw drivers were manhandled by others for defying the conventional permit system and conducting city service.

A member of the e-rickshaw owners’ union said the new permit system put an end to their long months of fights for justice and equal treatment. “We were after the police, local bodies and the Motor Vehicles Department for a solution. The city service permit was sought as there were no other options to end the protest of traditional drivers against us,” he said.

According to official figures, there were 160 electric autorickshaws within Kozhikode city limits alone by the end of 2020. Though more entrepreneurs were ready to purchase new e-vehicles to comply with the latest pollution control policies of Union and State governments, protests on the part of traditional drivers were preventing them from it. MVD officials said the city was permitted to have 2,000 e-rickshaws as part of the latest pollution control policies of the government and the new permit system would streamline the whole service.

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