Regulations
Legalising e-rickshaws in Delhi: Hindrances persist
For Harish, being able to ply his e-rickshaw on the roads of the national capital without any hindrance from law is still a far cry.
 
As the sole bread winner of his family, Harish, a father of five, says he has to "grease the palm" of the authorities to be allowed to run his battery-operated rickshaw on certain stretches in the city.
 
"Though the Delhi government has agreed to regulate e-rickshaws and provide us licences to ply on the roads, they have also introduced several norms which have made the process lengthy and expensive," Harish, who belongs to Madhubani in Bihar, told IANS.
 
"I bought my e-rickshaw after taking loan from a money lender. Now shelling out some Rs.30,000 more to get my e-rickshaw on the road is not possible for me. So I have to bribe the authorities to ply my e-rickshaw," Harish said. Thousands of e-rickshaw owners and drivers face the same problem and describe the registration and validation process as lengthy and expensive.
 
Jai Bhagwan Goel, chairperson, Battery Rickshaw Sangh (BRS), says that after months of uncertainty, to make the plying of e-rickshaws official the Delhi government started the process of licensing and registration through facilitation camps.
 
Parliament approved the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2015, with the Rajya Sabha passing it on March 11. The Lok Sabha passed the bill last week. The bill that replaces an ordinance aims at bringing e-rickshaws and e-carts under the ambit of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1957, so that they can ply across the country.
 
Following this, the Delhi government asked owners to register their battery-operated rickshaws under the Delhi Motor Vehicle Act. The transport department organised special camps for issuing learners licenses, PSV (Public Service Vehicle) badges and registration of e-rickshaws at the 13 transport offices across the capital.
 
The authorities had said they would issue permanent licences 10 days after issuing a learner's licence. Now this period has been increased to a month and the licence would be issued after police verification.
 
"Till now 21,000 people have applied for registration. The Transport department has sent the details to the respective police stations for verification, which has not yet started. Verifying 21,000 people and issuing them licence will certainly take much time," Goel told IANS.
 
Getting a permanent licence is not the end of the problem. They have to get a clearance certificate for the vehicle from the transport department, which can be procured only after modifying the e-rickshaws in tune with the models cleared by International Center for Automotive Technology (ICAT), he added.
 
To ensure the safety of passengers and the vehicle, ICAT has asked for certain modifications in the e-rickshaws, including introduction of a chassis number, changing the headlight, indicators, taillight, battery, rim and tyre, wiring and horn. ICAT has also asked for installing a valid number plate with a light on it.
 
"These modifications have made the e-rickshaws costlier. One will have to shell out Rs.32,000 for these modifications, including the changing of the battery. Every e-rickshaw driver cannot afford this," said Goel, adding that the government should arrange for providing loans to e-rickshaw owners to get the modifications done.
 
The lack of a proper policy on e-rickshaws has led to the mushrooming of these vehicles on Delhi's roads, estimated to number more than 100,000. The popular e-rickshaws have, in fact, edged out cycle rickshaws.
 
"They have overtaken cycle rickshaws in popularity and are giving stiff competition to auto rickshaws. A proper policy, though, is required," rickshaw puller Anantram Pasi in Chandni Chowk told IANS.
 
Gurmeet Singh, part of another association of e-rickshaws, said most parts of the vehicle were imported from China and put together by local manufacturers. "It is an environment-friendly option and needs to be promoted. We have nothing against being registered, but we want the government to provide us with certain benefits like other transport unions get," Gurmeet Singh told IANS.
 
"For a low-cost mode of transport the returns are very low; so there is a need to ensure safety. People have just ensured mobility but safety is a precursor to mobility. The vehicle's structure can be improved through research efforts," Sudipto Mukherjee, professor of mechanical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi, told IANS.
 
Special Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Muktesh Chandra said that it would be a welcome move if e-rickshaws were operated in a regulated way. "We have provided to the transport department the list of routes where they should ply in the city. Such vehicles should be kept away from the high-speed corridors. There should now be no problem with e-rickshaws while having trained drivers for this mode of transport," Chandra told IANS.
 
"E-rickshaws cannot ferry more than four passengers and 40 kg luggage at one time. It may work tremendously well as feeder services in certain areas. To ensure safety of passengers overloading will not be allowed at any cost," he added.

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30,000 elderly haven't got pension in East Delhi
Facing a financial crunch, the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) has not paid monthly pension of Rs.1,000 to over 30,000 elderly people under the Old Age Pension Scheme since March 2013, the Delhi High Court has been informed.
 
The East Delhi civic body told a division bench of Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva that due to the financial crunch it has also not paid the salaries of its officials and staff.
 
"The total number of pensioners under Old Age Pension Scheme is 30,816 and of them, 30,610 have received the pension up to March 31, 2013," EDMC said in its affidavit in the court.
 
The agency's response came after the bench asked it to file a status report while hearing a PIL filed by an NGO, Social Jurist, accusing it of stopping the pension of nearly 45,000 people, including the disabled, widows and the elderly under the scheme.
 
The court asked the civic body to file an affidavit stating the number of people entitled to receive pension under the scheme and the number actually receiving the pension.
 
In its response, the civic body claimed it had not stopped the pensions.
 
"EDMC has never stopped from its end, once the pension is allowed under the scheme to eligible persons," it said, adding: "However, pension is not paid to those who have expired or who have shifted their address without informing about the new address and/or have started receiving the pension from Delhi government (Delhi government pays Rs.1,500 per month, Rs.500 more than the corporation)."
 
Asking the court to dismiss the plea, EDMC said: "The Old Age Pension, under the scheme, was last paid on March 31,2013; therefore, the contention of the petitioner society that the pension was not paid since long is based on imagination."
 
"The EDMC is facing financial crunch due to which the salary of its officials/staff is not paid and this problem was raised even before union home minister by the mayor and commissioner of EDMC. The minister has assured to help," it added.
 
The civic body said the PIL is not maintainable as the "distribution of Old Age Pension is (a liability) upon the corporation which is subject to the availability of funds, apart from the obligatory functioning of the EDMC."
 
The PIL, filed through advocate Ashok Agarwal and Khagesh Jha, termed the denial of pension as a violation of fundamental rights.
 
Agarwal termed the EDMC action "arbitrary and illegal".

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Nifty, Sensex, Bank Nifty weak – Weekly closing report

If Nifty remains weak, the decline may halt at around 8,300

 

The S&P BSE Sensex closed the week that ended on 20th March at 28,261 (down 242 points or 0.85%), while the NSE’s CNX Nifty closed at 8,571 (down 77 points or 0.89%). In the week before that we had mentioned that NSE’s CNX Nifty may remain weak and the short-term support for the index maybe around 8,550.
 
Monday turned out to be a volatile session on the Nifty, with the index trading mostly in the red, and it finally ended closing lower.  Nifty closed at 8,633 (down 15 points or 0.17%). While the wholesale price index (WPI) remained in negative zone in February 2015, Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of International Monetary Fund (IMF) reportedly said that India's economy is a bright spot in a cloudy global economy and that recent policy reforms and improved business confidence are set to boost the country's growth. 
 
Data released by the Indian government previous week showed the trade deficit narrowing to the 17-month low of $6.85 billion in February 2015. As we anticipated on Monday, Nifty managed to close in the green on Tuesday, in spite of giving up all the intra-day gains mid-way. Nifty closed near the day’s high at 8,723 (up 90 points or 1.04%).
 
Foreign direct investment (FDI) in India more than doubled to $4.48 billion in January, the highest inflow in last 29 months. The head of the IMF said that emerging markets must prepare for the impact of a rise in US interest rates, which could surprise in both its timing and pace.
 
On Wednesday, although Nifty managed staying above Tuesday’s low, it closed lower 8,686 (down 37 points or 0.43%). Among the various happenings back home, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Dr Mahesh Sharma in a written reply in Rajya Sabha stated said that the Ministry of Finance was requested to include aviation turbine fuel (ATF) under declared goods. India's exports grew marginally by 0.88% to $286.58 billion during the April- February period of the current fiscal. There was also the news of SEBI planning to change the rule that will make it easier for home-grown start-ups to list their shares. The government has decided to divest its stake in BHEL next fiscal.
 
US housing finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could require more bailouts from US taxpayers as risks are rising due to shrinking reserves, an internal watchdog for the firms' regulator said on Wednesday. These two firms had been bailed out in 2008 financial crisis.
 
On Thursday, Nifty closed at 8,635 (down 51 points or 0.59%), despite a sharp rally on Wednesday in the US. We had anticipated that Nifty would move sideways. After a gap up opening, the benchmark hit a higher high. However, it then started moving lower. The OECD, in its latest Interim Economic Assessment of the world economy, said that India is expected to be the fastest-growing major economy in the world over the next two years.
 
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) said that according to PwC's 18th Annual Global CEO Survey (India report), CEOs in India continue to be more confident about the growth prospects of their business than their global peers. On Friday Nifty continued to head lower. Nifty closed at 8,571 (down 64 points or 0.74%).
 
Rajya Sabha passed the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2015. Fitch India has forecast gross domestic product to grow at 8.0% in 2015-16 and 8.3% in the next fiscal, based on the new data series. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the sale of equity in four state-owned companies including ONGC and NMDC, which may fetch the exchequer Rs22,574 crore.
 
Out of the 27 main sectors tracked by Moneylife, top five and the bottom five sectors for this week were:
 

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