Travelling in autorickshaws and taxis has become a costlier affair. But to add to the annoyance, electronic meters show a different denomination while tariff cards read something else. This is the reason why autorickshaw and taxis owners are being made to recalibrate their e-meters.
The transport department had given them a 45-day deadline for the recalibration of e-meters. But the deadline, which is today, seems to be a fallacy as the government instead of levying fines and taking action (as mentioned by Hakim Committee report), has decided to allow the drivers to recalibrate in the coming week as well.
“We will study the total number of e-meters that have been recalibrated and ask the state government for further guidance. This is the first time rickshaws and taxis are recalibrating meters on such a large scale,” said VN More, transport commissioner. Officials added that the government might suggest the possibility of levying fines or take other punitive action for not recalibrating their e-meters within the stipulated date.
This process of recalibration will be a problem every year. In case of any fluctuation in prices of fuel, mechanical spare parts and other ancillaries, meters will have to be recalibrated every time there is a change in tariff. Currently, there are 1.06 lakh auto rickshaws and 42,000 black and yellow taxis registered with the three RTOs in Mumbai.
Current figures claim that over 55,000 autorickshaws and 10,000 taxis need to be recalibrated with the revised fares of Rs 15 and Rs 19 for the first 1.5 km, respectively.
Sources in the RTO claim that in the future, the scale of recalibration might escalate when the state government finally decides to open dead permits and discontinue the use of mechanical meters. Dead permits are the ones that haven’t been renewed for a long time and the owner of the permit, too, has passed away.
Sources say that approximately 50,000 dead permits belonging to autorickshaws and taxis are waiting to be renewed. The government had closed this process way back in 1996-97 or so. With limited infrastructure at RTOs and only 92 staff working on recalibration, there will be a severe burden to carry out the process every May when the tariff will be changed. “The chip inside the e-meters have to be changed while recalibrating. But with limited staff it will be difficult to stick to the 45-day deadline every year,” said an RTO official.