New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed a bill to legalize e-rickshaws by bringing them under the ambit of the Motor Vehicles Act.
The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2014 also provides for the central government to make rules on the specifications for e-carts and e-rickshaws and the manner and conditions for issuing driving licenses.
Replying to the debate on the bill, Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari said the passage of the bill will ensure protection of the environment as well as provide employment to the poor people.
"There are nearly one crore people in the country who pull rickshaws and carts. We should free them from manual labour and help them convert to e-rickshaws and carts," he said.
The bill also relaxes the rules for issuing driving licenses for those driving e-rickshaws.
The Congress wanted the bill to be referred to a standing committee. "This is the standard procedure," said Congress` legislature party leader Mallikarjun Kharge.
"This will be a bad precedent. Then there will be no role for a standing committee. We are not anti-poor," he said.
However, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said many bills have been referred to the standing committee in this session.
"But where we have don`t have any major differences, why should we waste time," he asked.
Earlier participating in the discussion on the bill, Congress` Ranjeet Ranjan expressed doubts over the safety of e-rickshaws and questioned whether they will be allowed to operate in VIP areas like near parliament.
Anupriya Patel of the Apna Dal praised the bill and said that it was pro-poor and environment friendly.
Refuting allegations that the bill was being brought in keeping in view the Delhi elections next year, Gadkari said the government had earlier framed guidelines, but the Delhi High Court had directed that e-rickshaws should be brought under the Motor Vehicles Act.
The bill also envisages that the vehicles would be owned by the driver and cannot be rented out.