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Earthquake in North East India; Epicentre in Tamenglong, Manipur

Quake strikes northeast India; toll reaches 5, nearly 100 injured

A 6.7 magnitude earthquake hit the country's remote northeast region before dawn on Monday, killing at least five people, injuring 100 others and causing damage to several buildings. Tremors were also felt across the belt, including in the bordering regions of Myanmar, Bangladesh and Tibet.

There were reports of damage to several buildings in Imphal, the capital of Manipur. The tremor left large cracks in several walls and a portion of one building collapsed, police said.

Three persons were killed in the building collapse. The Manipur administration began rescue operations in the area with the help of the Indian Army and paramilitary forces.

"Five people are confirmed dead," Anurag Gupta of the National Disaster Management Authority told a news agency.

Several reports said there were power failures in several areas hit by the earthquake. A newly constructed six-storey building also collapsed in Imphal.

In West Bengal, a few persons sustained injuries and three were admitted to hospital in the North Bengal town of Siliguri. Of the three, one had an injury to the nose, one to the head and the third suffered trauma.

Tremors were felt at 4:35 am, but there was no widespread panic as most were deep in sleep.

Across the border in Bangladesh, one man reportedly died of a heart attack following the quake.

Home minister Rajnath Singh who was in Guwahati on Sunday night as part of his two-day trip to Assam, also felt the quake. The minister briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi over phone about the situation to discuss rescue and relief operations.

Two National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams of 90 personnel each have been instructed to rush to Imphal from Guwahati, the home ministry informed. Two other disaster response teams were being sent to Manipur.

A home ministry spokesperson also said that the National Crisis Management Committee, headed by the cabinet secretary, is holding a meeting to review the situation.

The meteorological department said the epicentre of the quake was in Tamenglong region of Manipur. It struck at a depth of 17km in the India-Myanmar border region. The US Geographical Survey (USGC) said the epicenter was 29 kilometeres west-northwest from Imphal.

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Relief for drivers of E-rickshaws and E-carts

Ordinance promulgated for giving relief to drivers of E-rickshaws and E-carts

The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2014 was passed by Lok Sabha on 18th December, 2014 and wasAshoka-Emblem introduced in Rajya Sabha on 22nd December, 2014 for consideration and passing. The Bill was listed for debate in the business of Rajya Sabha on 22nd and 23rd December, 2014 but could not be taken up for discussion because of adjournment. As the Parliament is not in session and the matter of giving relief to people depending on e-rickshaws is of public interest, it was decided to move for promulgation of an Ordinance by the President under Article 123 of the Constitution of India for carrying out the proposed amendments in the line of Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2014.

To bring relief to people using and driving E-rickshaws and E-carts, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has notified GSR 709(E) dated 08.10.2014 and S.O. 2590(E) dated 08.10.2014 for amending the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 (CMVRs) to include e-Rickshaws and e-Carts and its specifications under the ambit of Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989. While the testing, certification and registration of such E-rickshaws/E-carts have been notified, the requirement of the drivers of such vehicles to have a license to drive LMV for one year, as prescribed under the MV Act, 1988 for getting a learner’s license to drive such transport vehicle, continued to be an impediment.

Under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, no person can be granted a learner’s licence to drive a transport vehicle unless he has held the driving licence for a period of at least one year. As most of the E-rickshaw and e-Cart drivers do not have any license for an year, the extant provision will debar them from operating e-Rickshaws/e-Carts. In order to remove this difficulty and facilitate plying of e-Rickshaw and e-Cart, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways proposed an amendment to Section 7(1) of the motor Vehicles Act, 1988 through Ordinance which would enable the grant of driving licence for E-Rickshaw and E-Cart drivers holding LMV licence, without waiting for the prescribed one year period for transport vehicles.

With the assent of the President, the Ordinance has been promulgated on 7th January, 2015 for giving the relief to the large number of drivers of E-rickshaws and E-carts. This is proposed keeping in view the fact that the E-Rickshaws and E-carts have been allowed a maximum power of 2000 watts and a speed of 25 kms per hour through amendment in the CMVR.