10 auto drivers booked

Bundgarden traffic police crack down on drivers for overcharging and refusing to ply to locations desired by commuters on Day 1 of MiD DAY campaign against errant auto men

Harried by the unrelenting dismissive nod you get every time you hail an autorickshaw? Wish you could bring to book the arrogant auto drivers who would rather you go to a destination of their choice and convenience?
MiD DAY has just taken up your cause. With the help of the Pune traffic police and the Regional Transport Office (RTO), MiD DAY kicked off the Meter Down campaign yesterday.

Mean business: (from above) A Bundgarden traffic policeman
intercepts an auto driver who refused a fare outside the Pune railway
station; MiD DAY reporters with Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic)
Vishwas Pandhare at the Pune railway station, where the Meter Down
campaign was flagged off; passengers crowd outside the railway station
for an autorickshaw. Pics/Krunal Gosavi

Campaign flagged off
Deputy Commissioner of Police Vishwas Pandhare flagged off the campaign at the traffic police booth on Pune railway station premises.  Extending his support to the campaign, Pandhare said the campaign would be carried out in 30 traffic divisions across the city. "Traffic officials will accompany reporters and action will be taken against auto rickshaw drivers who refuse to ply to specific destinations," Pandhare said.

He said the traffic police have conducted similar drives and plainclothes policeman, posing as commuters, have taken action against rickshaw drivers violating rules.

Location: Pune Railway Station
Time: 11 am-2 pm, 6 pm-7.30 pm
Offenders caught: 10

MiD DAY reporters noticed that as soon as auto rickshaw drivers became aware they would be booked for not plying to specific destination, all of them agreed to go even short distances and according to the tariff card.
This, however, did not continue for long. Soon a rickshaw driver demanded Rs 40 from a reporter and refused to ply by meter. The rickshaw driver was booked for overcharging by the Bundgarden traffic division.

A few good men: Altaf Shaikh was one of the three autorickshaw
drivers willing to ply anywhere the passengers wanted. Pic/Kaumudi Gurjar

Another rickshaw driver who demanded Rs 40 to go to the Cantonment area abandoned the rickshaw in the middle of the road. When the Bundgarden traffic division noticed this, they immediately booked the rickshaw driver for refusing to ply by meter. Six more were booked for the same reason at the same spot.
At the end of the day Assistant Police Inspector Bapusaheb Shinde booked 10 autorickshaw drivers in Pune railway station who refused to ply to locations desired by commuters.

Silver lining
MiD DAY found that there was cause for some hope as there were three auto rickshaw drivers who readily agreed to ply to any desired location. They were Chandrakant Gaikwad, Altaf Shaikh and Mahendra J Kate (MH-12-FC-1448).One of our reporters asked to be dropped to Somwar Peth. Most rickshaw drivers refuse to ply this distance as it is close to the station and it's difficult to get a return fare.

Kate willingly agreed and also said he would go by meter. When this reporter told him about the media campaign, Kate said he never refused fares, unless he was on his way home for lunch or dinner.
"I understand the problems faced by commuters and will continue to do the same," he said.
Gaikwad and Shaikh voiced similar opinions and said it was wrong to trouble commuters.

The autowallahs refuse to go short distances such as Shanipara to Omkareshwar or to Kothrud. They argue and just drive away, not even bothering about old people. Moreover, they charge extra for luggage.
Shyam Gadre (57), teacher

Auto drivers say they don't get a fare back, so they won't come and if they do come they charge extra. They turn the meter halfway down, and I have noticed that this leads to excessive charging. Their meters are tampered, everyone knows that. They also know which signal is longer, so they slow down just before the signal. They are a menace, and I am glad that MiD DAY has started this campaign against them.
Prabhavati A Deochakke (67), retired teacher

Fortunately, I haven't had any problem with the auto drivers. The beat police chowky that has come up here has helped a lot. Initially, this place was a steal. The auto drivers were thugs, and they had no manners or an iota of sense on how to speak to anyone. The police chowky has changed that and helped a lot.
Ashwini Naik (30), travel consultant

I am a heart patient, but there have been times when I have had to run behind a rickshaw screaming, telling them to stop. It has happened with me many times. I travel to and from Mumbai often and every time the same problem happens. We don't want to trouble the auto drivers unnecessarily, but we are customers and it is their duty not to refuse fare to anywhere.
Syed Akhtar (57), businessman

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