Pandering to  auto drivers' demand of reinstating the old minimum fare of Rs 15, the Navi Mumbai auto unions have decided to pursue the issue of re-implementing the old auto fare with the regional transport authorities. They have threatened to go on an indefinite fast in front of Konkan Bhavan in Belapur in the next two to three days.

Sticking to habit: Despite the implementation of the minimum fare of
Rs 11 on March 19, most auto drivers in Navi Mumbai are still charging
commuters the old fare of Rs 15 for the first mile. Representation Pic

Undeterred by this move, the Regional Transport Office (RTO) and Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Transport Authority (MMRTA), have ruled out possibilities that it will roll back the newly implemented auto fare in the region.

Most of the auto drivers in the city are still charging customers the old minimum fare of Rs 15 despite the implementation of the new minimum fare of Rs 11 since March 19. This has resulted in arguments between commuters and auto drivers in the last few days. The Regional Transport Officer (RTO) of Navi Mumbai said that action would be initiated against the errant drivers soon.

'Fine them'
Pankaj Kanherkar, an employee with a water purification company, said, "How can these auto drivers charge us old rates when the RTO has implemented the new ones in Navi Mumbai? These drivers should be penalised for looting commuters." 

Earlier, realising that the authorities were in no mood to give in to their demands, the auto unions had called off their strike last Friday. However, auto drivers remained off the roads, continuing their protest against the scaled down fare. "We had never given up our fight for the increase in auto fare, but had called off the strike as we didn't want commuters to suffer. Now we have decided to discuss the issue with the authorities. And depending on its outcome, we will decide whether to go on an indefinite fast or not," said Kasam Mulani, president, Navi Mumbai Rickshaw Mahasangh.

Told that most of the auto drivers were still charging commuters as per the old fare, Mulani said, "Since we are still pursuing the matter with the authorities, we cannot ask the drivers to follow the new fare."

"As the new rate card for auto fare has been finalised and conveyed to the auto unions, it doesn't make sense to agitate. If we start penalising errant drivers, these auto unions will use it as a tool to create chaos. Hence, once the situation attains normalcy, we'll initiate action against errant drivers," said an RTO official, requesting anonymity.