It appears that the stand-off between the auto unions and the Regional Transport Office is going to get uglier, as the unions have warned the RTO of protests if its officials penalise auto drivers for operating without electronic meters from today. Yesterday was last day for drives to replace mechanical meters with e-meters.
Refusing to bow down to the pressure tactics implemented by the auto unions, RTO officials drivers could be fined up to Rs 2,000 if found driving autos without e-meters. Some of the officials said under Section 137 of the Maharashtra Motor Vehicles Act of 1989, the state had issued a Government Resolution (GR) on February 17, 2012, making e-meters mandatory from March 1, 2012. And as per the high court directives, the RTO declared March 31, 2013, to be the last date of fitting e-meters.
“May 1 is ‘Labour Day’ and the state failed to keep its promises of making basic provisions for CNG vehicles. The government and the RTO don’t consider auto drivers and owners as human beings. This leaves us with no option but to fight. We already explained our stand to the district collector on April 15 and asked for a month’s extension. Moreover, the RTO lacked adequate staff to check e-metres as well as permit passing of autos.”
Regional Transport Officer Arun Yeola said, “There is no confusion over replacing mechanical meters with electronic ones. There won’t be any change of plan from our end and legal action will be initiated against auto drivers operating their vehicles without e-metres from today. Enough time was given to them to do the needful. Fortunately, only about 10 per cent of auto drivers are yet to fit e-meters.
Also, we had initiated a special drive with the help of traffic police to spread awareness amongst drivers about e-meters in the last 15 days.” Dattatraya Thorat of auto-rickshaw permit department said that as per the updated statistics, of the total 32,735 rickshaws registered in the city, about 5,211 rickshaws were yet to be fitted with e-meters. “Under Section 86 of the Maharashtra Motor Vehicles Act, a fine of Rs 2,000 will be levied on drivers operating autos without e-meters,” Thorat said.