Almost 50 per cent of autorickshaws plying in the city are doing so without fitness certificates, which indicates that the drivers having been instructed to have electronic meters fitted in their vehicles is turning out to be a futile exercise. According to the state government directive, electronic meters should be installed in autorickshaws during annual passing.
According to a reply for a query under the Right to Information (RTI), it was revealed that out of 43,845 autorickshaws, only 22,066 showed up for their annual passing with their vehicles and have certificates. From March 1, the state government made it mandatory for all new autorickshaws to have electronic meters before approaching the RTO for registration.
The plan to have meters of old autorickshaws replaced during annual passing has proved ineffective, as thousands of rickshaw drivers have not completed the process for several years. “This is proving to be an easy way out for rickshaw drivers wanting to tamper with the older meters,” said an official from Passengers and Goods Transport Committee.
Committee president, Baba Shinde said, “This clause of replacing previous meters of old rickshaws during the passing is completely wrong. Without going through the passing process, owners of old rickshaws can use old meters for many years.
By making this clause, the state government has given them an easy way out. There should a fixed period for all rickshaw owner to replace old meters with electronic ones,” President of Sajag Nagrik Manch, Vivek Velankar, said that they have been following up continuously on autorickshaws functioning illegally for the past two years and providing their findings to the RTO and the traffic police.
“If the rickshaw drivers are not doing regular passing, then the rule to install electronic meters is void and they will continue to indulge in tampering. We are demanding that the traffic police take action against at least five rickshaw owners per day, which will act as a deterrent to others,” Velankar said.
Bapu Bhave, president Rickshaw Federation said that not a single case has been filed for meter tampering and added that electronic meters is not the solution. He said, instead of penalizing autorickshaw drivers, the RTO and traffic police should file cases against those tampering with meters.
“We have received several complaints and are planning to conduct a special drive, along with the traffic, against autorickshaw drivers and others not doing regular passing. Our staff was engaged due to the yearly audit and that is why we couldn’t take action earlier,” RTO officer Arun Yevala said.
Rickshaw union calls strike on Monday
Rickshaw Panchayat, the largest autorickshaw union in the city has announced a one-day strike on Monday to press for a fare hike. The decision was taken during a meeting of several union representatives held at Mumbai yesterday. “We are strongly opposing the decision of mandatory installation of electronic meters. Also as the rate of third party insurance has increased to a large extent, we need to demand a fare hike,” Nitin Pawar, convener of Rickshaw Panchayat said.