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Mumbai auto unions want minimum fare to be Rs 18

And for every subsequent kilometre, they want Rs 12.28; the Sharad Rao-led union has threatened to go on protest from June 21 if the state government fails to meet their demands

Even as the Mumbai Metro poaches their passengers, the city’s auto rickshaws don’t seem to mend their ways. The Sharad Rao-led rickshaw union has demanded that the minimum fare for auto rickshaws be made Rs 18 from the existing Rs 15, which is charged for the first 1.5 km.

Mumbai auto fare hike
Representational picture

The Sharad Rao-led union has also asked for the fare for every subsequent kilometre to be increased to Rs 12.28, from the current Rs 10. The union says the demands are legitimate and are as per recommendations by the Hakim Committee, which tabled a report in 2012.

According to the report, if a hike in cost per kilometre including various factors like fuel cost, cost of living, maintenance and repair of rickshaws etc is more than 50 paise, then a hike in fare is warranted. The report had recommended an annual fare revision in May.

Last year, the increase in cost was around 45 paise, and the city was spared a fare hike. However, unions this time claim they have been suffering losses, even as they continue to refuse fares and operate on their own whims and fancies.

“Each auto driver is facing losses to the tune of Rs 150 per day due to rise in basic costs and raw materials. If the state government doesn’t clear the fare hike as recommended by the Hakim Committee, we will begin our protests from June 21 throughout the state,” said Sharad Rao, president of the auto rickshaw union.

Commuters are reeling under the steadily increasing cost of travelling in autos buses are too crowded and the hikes have changed household economics. Moreover, rampant refusals, and rude behaviour of drivers are a nightmare.

Rao claims the union has sent notices to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Transport department, stating that if the fare hike and social security for auto drivers is not introduced within seven days, then the 15 lakh-odd auto rickshaw drivers across the state would stage rallies in front of government offices.

Transport department officials refused to comment on the issue. It should be noted that the Hakim Committee had suggested fare hikes for auto rickshaws across the state.

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