Tribune News Service
Fatehgarh Sahib, May 23
The Punjab Cycle Rickshaw (Regulation of License) Act- 1976 is giving bumpy rides to the eco-cabs that were launched with the help of the Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board from Fazilka and are slowly spreading to all the districts of the state.
An eco-cab is an improvised version of rickshaw with low floor, lightweight, maintenance free, FM Radio, water bottle, magazine holder, more space to store luggage, improved road safety features and dial a rickshaw facility in big cities.
Last month, the Punjab Government directed all the DCs of the state to consider introducing the eco-cabs and submit report within three months. However, lacunae in the Cycle Rickshaw Act have put the cab owners in a fix. The Graduates Welfare Association of Fazilka in a letter to the principal secretary, Punjab Tourism, suggested amendments in the Punjab Rickshaw Act. Secretary of the association, Navdeep Asija said, "While the Motor Vehicle Act has fixed only lower age limit to drive vehicles like cars or scooters and there is no upper limit, the Rickshaw Act says that a rickshaw owner cannot operate a rickshaw if he is above 45 years."
Punjab was the first state to introduce the Cycle Rickshaw Act, which says that anyone who owns a rickshaw has to drive it. According to the Rickshaw Act, giving rickshaw to someone else on rent is considered illegal, the owner must get license after medical examination and certificate, upper age limit to drive a rickshaw is 45 years and municipal authorities can confiscate and destruct the rickshaw, if anybody above 45 years of age is found driving it, without license or other valid documents. Navdeep stated that cycling was a healthy exercise that keeps one fit even after 60 years and hence, the upper age limit for getting the license should be linked with the medical fitness of rickshaw driver.
Act does not allow anyone to hold more than one rickshaw. Licenses to widows, disabled and institutions can be given licences based on their needs but maximum number allowed is five. This means that a rickshaw puller can never own more than one rickshaw in his entire life. Mahesh, a rickshaw puller, alleged that the municipal authorities or the police usually harass people who hire a rickshaw for living, as the act debars the poor to operate rickshaw on rent. Destruction of rickshaws after confiscation should be stopped, he said.
Meanwhile, eco-cabs have been launched at Fazilka, Amritsar and Patiala and process is on to launch it in Sangrur and Ludhiana. Sixty lakh people in the state travel on rickshaw and there are 300 newly launched eco-cabs. Officials of the Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board said they would write for the amendment of Punjab Rickshaw Act.
The Punjab Cycle Rickshaw Act says…
Upper age to drive a rickshaw is 45 years and the municipal authorities can confiscate and destruct a rickshaw if anyone is found flouting the age norm. The Lacunae: On the other hand, the Motor Vehicle Act has only fixed lower age limit to drive vehicles like cars or scooters and there is no upper age limit.