The e-rickshaws distributed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 5 under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana seems to have no takers in Noida and Ghaziabad.
Nearly 2,000 battery-operated rickshaws are gathering dust at the NIB (National Institute of Biologicals) ground in Sector 62 Noida. The Mudra scheme refinances loans of up to Rs 10 lakh given by lending institutions to small borrowers for non-farm income-generating activities.
Modi had distributed a total 5,100 e-rickshaws, of which a thousand each were meant for Noida and Ghaziabad. The rickshaws were linked to the Ola app and expected to offer online payment facility to customers. The distribution was aimed at empowering Dalits and women.
Noida road inspector Mahesh Sharma said 352 licences have been issued so far to e-rickshaw drivers but not even a single vehicle has been registered or issued route permit to date.
The e-rickshaw drivers need a valid driving licence, vehicle registration and route permits from transport department to ply the vehicles. However, nothing has been moving.
The PM had distributed 5100 e-rickshaws of which 1000 were each for Noida and Ghaziabad only.
Bhartiya Micro Credit (BMC), the Lucknow-based microfinance company, which had financed these e-rickshaws has failed to get 2000 new buyers-cum-drivers for Noida and Ghaziabad.
As e-rickshaws are available cheaper than the price quoted by the company, neither the new buyers nor those who already own a vehicle have shown interest in the scheme.
“If you buy an e-rickshaw through BMC, it will cost between Rs 1.60 lakh to Rs 1.70 lakh after two or three years of instalments. I bought e-rickshaws from local dealers for Rs 62,000. Also, I have never heard about this company. We are a group of 250 e-rickshaw drivers ferrying passengers in Sector 62. None of us are interested in getting it from BMC,” said Sandesh Kumar, a migrant from Bihar who is running an e-rickshaw in Noida for over a year.
“It is much better for us to get our own rickshaw registered with the transport department. Why pay monthly EMIs? We do not want to get into all this,” said Sundar Paswan, another e-rickshaw driver.
The project is facing legal hurdles too.
The Noida transport department has asked BMCto prove its credibility as an auto-finance firm.
“In the non-banking sector the market is flooded with self-claimed entrepreneurs. We have asked the company to prove whether it is authorized to finance vehicles like other authorised banks in the country. For that the company will have to produce a Trade Certificate (TC) which is mandatory for any financing company dealing in vehicle trade as per Motor Vehicle Act (MVAct),” said Rachna Yaduvanshi, assistant regional transport officer, Gautam Budh Nagar district.
She said Rule No 34 of MV Act says that a financing company must be approved by the Reserve Bank of India. If BMC fails to produce the Trade Certificate, their e-rickshaws and drivers would be treated as unauthorised and action would be initiated to seize their vehicles, said Yaduvanshi.
Rising Star, Sarthak Automobiles, Aman Automobiles and Kumar Traders are four registered traders with Noida transport. According to Vijay Pandey, managing director of BMC, these companies are BMC vendors.
He said that his company’s credibility should not be doubted as it is working as a business associate with authorised banks.
“The owners are poor who were selected on first come first serve basis and these vehicles have been purchased from six different vendors. We help poor people in getting loan from banks for e-rickshaw, in getting permits and driving licence from transport department,” said Pandey.
Claiming that the company has more than 500 buyers from Noida and Ghaziabad, Pandey said BMC will comply with the rules.
An Ola spokesperson said only those e-rickshaws that are authorised and have licence will be provided through the platform..