REVEALED: Mumbai's biggest auto union took money for new permits

Authorities say they have received complaints that the union had taken R1,200 from people, promising them fresh auto permits; meanwhile, union will protest against the online system today

The clash between auto rickshaw drivers’ union and the Transport department continues, with the authorities alleging that the Sharad Rao-led body took money from aspiring applicants, promising them new permits in return.

‘No’ to Online: Sharad Rao-led Mumbai Auto Rickshawmen’s Union protested against the online system outside the Transport commissioner’s office in Bandra (East) on February 1. FILE PIC

The state is going to revive 34,000 dead permits for driving autos in the state and the application system this time had been completely online — much to the chagrin of Rao’s Mumbai Auto Rickshawmen’s Union.

While Rao has threatened a protest today in the state, including Mumbai, the transport body claimed they had received complaints about his union collecting money for the permits.

“We have been told that interested badge holders or rickshaw drivers were asked to pay Rs 1,200 for getting the new permit. We wanted to eliminate all these problems and so, started the online system which would be transparent,” said state Transport Commissioner VN More.

According to another union member, the union was to get some part of this money for themselves; the other portions would be for procuring the permit and some would go to government officials as well, he said.

“We wanted to stop such money transactions, apart from saving manpower, which would otherwise be used on collecting physical forms,” said an RTO official.

The online system for issuing the 32,000 dead permits for Mumbai, made any kind of human interference difficult.

However, unions blamed the Transport department and claimed that the procedure made applying for the permit difficult for drivers.

1.75 lakh
Applicants in the state for auto permits

1.49 lakh
Number of applicants verified after checks

Number of applicants from Mumbai

Number of permits to be issued in Mumbai

Rs 100
Application fee to be paid

Union says

Sharad Rao said, “The department is itself not following the rules. They didn’t meet us before introducing this system and are blaming us instead.” He said the protests would be staged at the three RTO offices.

Here are some of their criticisms of the system:
>> Doesn’t have clearance from State Transport Authority (STA), who need to approve this
>> STA should have taken a decision and then delegated powers to the Transport commissioner
>> Drivers not computer-savvy, don’t know how to fill forms online
>> No provision in the Motor Vehicles Act, to make Std X pass a minimum qualification, instead of the current Std VIII

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