ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Battery Rickshaws in New Delhi and the Regulation Conundrum

Battery rickshaws have become a common sight on the streets of New Delhi in the past few years. They play an important role in the urban transport system and are a significant provider of employment. However, despite their proliferation, they remain unregulated and this has become the subject of loud and often antagonistic debate in the media and considerable confusion amongst the judiciary, transport department and the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. This article attempts to explain the conundrum behind this regulatory confusion and discusses the attitudes of battery rickshaw drivers to regulation.

1 Rise of the Battery Rickshaw

The past three to four years have seen the rapid rise of the battery-powered electric rickshaw (battery rickshaws) in New Delhi. They first appeared on the streets of the capital around 2010-11 when a few hundred battery rickshaws began making short passenger trips in a small number of areas, mostly in west Delhi and around the Delhi University campus. Since then their numbers have grown and they are now a common sight across the city. Though there are currently no official figures on the number of battery rickshaws operating in New Delhi, unofficial estimates put the number on the streets at around 1 lakh (The Times of India 2014a).

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