After the near-total auto rickshaw strike that stalled Mumbai last Monday, the regional transport offices (RTOs) had decided to crack the whip and instil fear in the minds of permit holders. But obviously the latter are made of sterner stuff. Of the 198 auto rickshaw owners who were issued show cause notices by Andheri RTOs, only 31 replied in the stipulated one-week deadline.
“We will raise this issue and ask the transport department to suggest possible action in the next Mumbai Metropolitan Region Transport Authority (MMRTA) meeting,” said a senior Andheri RTO official on condition of anonymity. The officials claim that they video recorded moments of the strike and randomly pasted show cause notices on autos that were off the roads on April 16.
This past week, Andheri RTO officers were waiting for auto rickshaw owners, who were issued notices, to come and file their replies. Sources added that most of those who responded stated that they went on strike because of the several unfulfilled demands raised by their unions, but also as a majority of rickshaws wouldn’t have been plying that day. To the disappointment of authorities, hardly 16 per cent of permit holders, who were issued show cause notices, replied. On the other hand the transport experts claim that such antics of issuing notices are nothing less than a farce when the government fails to act against the strong unions.
Yet the sting of sheer disregard on part of the automen seems to have irritated the state government a bit. “A long-drawn process will now be initiated against those who’ve replied and those who haven’t. Action will be taken, depending on various factors, starting with minimum suspension of permit for 15 days or more,” explained VN More, transport commissioner. He added that the suspension could be for up to 45 days, and there may be a fine, starting from Rs 3,000. Future course of action will be decided in the coming days depending on the MMRTA meeting, which is unlikely to take place anytime soon.
>> The government has set up a one-member committee under former bureaucrat P Hakim who will study the formula for deciding fares for autos, taxis, share-autos and taxis
>> Public meeting with all concerned unions including passenger organisations can be called in the days to come
>> From April 20, the revised auto rickshaw fares, with a hike of Re 1 came into force