Activist says police, RTO officials don’t take action on the autos, which may even be a safety hazard, as they are in poor condition
Banned from the city jurisdiction in 1999, six-seater auto rickshaws — most of them illegal — seem to be thriving in the suburbs. City-based activist Ganesh Galande and his team have found that only 600 of these autos are registered with the Pune Regional Transport Office (RTO) and a whopping 12,000-15,000 are plying illegally. That means that there are at least 20 illegal autos for every legal one.
“My team of five members and I have been going to different areas in Pune district, where these six-seater autos run, for nearly four years. We had filed an RTI application to get the list of registered six-seater autos and their numbers from the Pune RTO. After having cross-checked over the years, we came to know that more than 12,000 auto rickshaws in Yerawada, Katraj, Chandani Chowk, Dhayari, Hadapsar and Bhosari are running illegally,” said Galande.
“Most of the illegal autos are above the scrapping limit, which is 16 years according to RTO rules, and they are not in a good condition at all. They use fake registration numbers of other vehicles, heavy vehicles and even Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) buses. We have complained about this to the RTO and to traffic cops, but they are not performing their duty properly as all of them are ‘managed’ by these auto drivers. I am now going to file a legal complaint against the RTO officials about this and my only demand is that illegal vehicles should be immediately scrapped,” Galande added.
An RTO inspector, requesting anonymity, said one of the key reasons why action has not been taken is that RTO officials and traffic cops are given a certain revenue target by higher-ups in their department and fines collected from these drivers and owners of these six-seater autos helps them meet the number. A maximum fine of Rs 1,000 can be levied on six-seater autos if the registration number is fake or it does not have proper documentation.“We know that there are many illegal six-seater auto rickshaws running in the outskirts of Pune, but we do not have enough manpower to take action on them. Also,people prefer to use these for their daily commute as they are on sharing basis and their fares are low,” added the RTO inspector.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Vishwas Pandhare said, “Only our traffic cops cannot take action on these six-seater autos and RTO officials need to get involved as well. We are ready to provide manpower to the RTO as they have the right to cancel permits and scrap the vehicles and we cannot do it. We will certainly undertake a drive on these six-seater autos with the RTO in the near future and take action on illegal autos.” Despite repeated attempts, Pune Regional Transport Officer Jeetendra Patil was not available for comment.
Six-seater autos in Pune
600 Number of six-seater autos registered with RTO
12,000 Number of six-seater autos plying illegally in suburbs