On October 8, the state government ordered a stringent drive against autos with invalid or lapsed permits. Within the first five days, the Mumbai RTO raked in over Rs 1.6 crore from rickshaw owners, who did not have the requisite permits for plying their vehicles.
RTO checking on Western Express Highway. Pic/Shailesh Bhatia
According to the most recent figures released by the Mumbai RTO, the body has detained 319 autos for verification.
This drive is part of the amnesty scheme launched for rickshaw owners which ends on November 16. The state government has ordered the RTO to cancel all lapsed or invalid permits permanently, after the due date. To add to this, errant rickshaws owners will not be allowed to participate in a forthcoming lottery, on the basis of which fresh permits will be issued.
At the Vasai RTO, along with their Thane counterparts, out of 944 autos, 77 have been detained for serious lapse in permits, yielding revenue of R1.7 lakh from fines.
Satish Sahastrabudhe, additional transport commissioner, said strict vigil has been initiated in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra, based on a directive from the state government. “Our squads from Andheri, Wadala and Borivli have checked over 2,000 autos. In a few cases, we even came across repeat offenders whose permits had been cancelled,” he said.
Deputy RTO Abhay Deshpande, who is spearheading the campaign from Vasai to Dahanu on the Mumbai Ahmedabad Highway, said that most rickshaws in his area ply without proper documentation. “It was difficult to ascertain the exact volume of illegal rickshaws. They are like migratory birds, always on the move from one region to another. Out of the 944 vehicles checked so far, 313 have been found guilty of not following the rules. This is a fairly big number,” he said, adding that in many cases rickshaw owners give vehicles to drivers without valid licences. “We have made a serious note of this malpractice, as it endangers the life of not only passengers, but also pedestrians,” he said.
But, the biggest challenge is to trace vehicles that have been scrapped but still ferry passengers. Assistant RTO, Vasai, Ashok B Pawar, said, “Out of the 60 vehicles detained, eight fell in the scrapped category. The problem is once they get a whiff of our campaign they go underground,” he said.