Launched in 2010 by the erstwhile Municipal Corporation of Delhi, e-rickshaws were touted as a remedy for Delhi's chronic trafficand pollution woes and a less hazardous livelihood option for cycle-rickshaw pullers. However, more than 100,000 e-rickshaws in the capital have turned out to be a safety hazard with most of these three-wheelers being charged illegally by tapping power lines.

"E-rickshaw charging units come in various models and voltages, ranging from 110 volts to 500 volts-125 amperes. The owners generally use cables that have been continuously dragged on the ground, damaging the wires. Often they don't take adequate precaution, exposing people to the risk of electrocution and short circuit," said an expert.

Another safety hazard in e-rickshaws are their batteries. There is no standard guideline for the locally manufactured vehicles, including the type and qualities of the batteries. "In order to reduce the cost, manufacturers generally use low-quality batteries, which are non-branded with limited lifespans of 6-12 months," said a discom official.

Experts said accidents could happen due to improperly laid and taped charging cables. "Besides the latest incident in Shahdara, unsafe cables led to a fatal accident in Rohini on August 30," said the official.
 
Some people also take around Rs 100 per night to charge and park an e-rickshaw mainly on encroached government plots and steal power to do the same, said a source. While enforcement and zonal staff of discoms keep an eye on illegal use of electricity and regularly conduct raids, such thefts usually take place during the night, he added.

E-rickshaws use lead-acid battery and no proper infrastructure is available to charge them. Drivers usually charge them at home or pay numerous garages for the same. Most of these garages steal power from low-tension lines, which is both unauthorised and dangerous, said the source.

To avoid such mishaps, steps should be taken to regularise e-rickshaws and ensure that the owners/drivers take legal connections for charging, said discoms.





(Sourced from timesofindia.indiatimes.com)