An actress travelling from Belapur to Nerul was forced to call the police after she was harassed by an auto driver who refused to ply by meter, highlighting the continued plight of commuters in the satellite city
Residents of the satellite city continue to reel under public transport woes, with auto rickshaw drivers refusing to charge by meter and the Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport dealing with poor services and facing losses every year.
The auto driver refused to ply by meter and demanded Rs 60 from Geeta Poduval
What’s worse, auto drivers are also demanding the introduction of prepaid auto fare system, forcing the common man to shell out extra money. Despite the increase in the minimum fare of auto rickshaws last year, the nuisance of errant drivers refusing to ply by meter does not seem to end.
On Tuesday, a south Indian film actress had to call the police to persuade an auto driver to charge fare by meter. Belapur-resident Geeta Poduval had left home at around 10 am to visit a doctor in Nerul. However, when she asked an auto driver, he refused to charge by meter and demanded Rs 60.
When she objected, the driver started arguing and then refused to take her to the destination. “When I objected to paying without the meter, he started justifying the fare, claiming he won’t get a passenger from Nerul, which was ridiculous,” said Geeta.
As the driver continued to remain adamant, she dialled 100 and called the police to the spot. “When I told the driver that I would call the cops, he arrogantly said, ‘Take whatever action you want against me’. However, when the police arrived and they pressured him, he dropped me to my destination and took the fare as per meter,” she said.
The meter showed Rs 40 as total fare when Geeta reached Nerul, for which the auto driver was demanding Rs 60. While returning home, Geeta was again harassed by another auto driver who refused to ply by meter.
It was only when she narrated the morning incident to him that the driver agreed to charge according to the meter. Geeta told mid-day that she has started a petition on social networking site to raise voice against errant auto drivers.
Last year, the Vashi Regional Transport Office (RTO) had made it mandatory for auto drivers in the satellite city to recalibrate their meters and charge fares based on the same, failing which the department penalised few drivers.
Sanjay Dhaygude, Deputy regional transport officer at Vashi RTO, said, “I have spoken to the woman and asked her to lodge a complaint on our website. After studying the case, we will issue a notification and necessary action will be taken against the owner of the vehicle.”
Number of auto rickshaws in Navi Mumbai