RTO, auto unions grind axes over High Court order

Auto rickshaws and other heavy vehicles are regularly seen leaving the premises empty-handed, despite waiting in serpentine queues for the entire day. While auto rickshaw union members claim that the recently issued order by the High Court (HC) did not specify how many auto rickshaws could be inspected for passing and that the RTO officials are violating the order, RTO officials claim chaos prevails because of a severe staff crunch. 

Long wait continues: Due to the restriction of the high court for issuing fitness certificate, many commercial vehicles including auto-rickshaws have to wait in a long queue creating chaos at Regional Transport Office (RTO) at Alandi Road. Pic/Krunal Gosavi

The intention behind the HC order was to ensure that the RTO officers, conducting the fitness tests, spent more time with each case and make a thorough job of it.  Currently, each inspector can inspect only 36 auto rickshaws, 20 buses, 20 trucks and 40 Light Motor Vehicles per day. 

The auto rickshaw unions are unhappy with the current statistics, as there are 45,000 auto rickshaws in the city, and between 400 to 500 auto rickshaws visit the RTO each day for passing (fitness test). There are only four inspectors in the RTO, so around 150 vehicles can be inspected. Auto rickshaw unions allege that the RTO officials have misinterpreted the HC order and claim the limit only pertains to trucks and buses.

According to an unnamed source, because of the high number of auto rickshaws going in for passing, RTO inspectors pressurise drivers and expect more in way of bribes.

“There is no limit on the number of auto rickshaws appearing for the fitness test at Thane and Mumbai RTOs, so why should there be any here? The limit is only for heavy vehicles. The High Court ordered a restriction on the number of vehicles, but did not mention specific numbers. The current limit of 36 auto rickshaws has been fixed by the Transport Commissionarate,” Bapu Bhave, president, Auto Rickshaw Federation, said.

Vijay Ravale, president of Rashtrawadi Rickshaw Union said, “RTO officers and agents are taking undue advantage of this decision. They are implementing this decision according to their convenience. Each RTO inspector can check a specified number of vehicles and there are only four inspectors. But many times after exceeding the limit, other RTO officers who do not know anything about engines, conduct the test.”  

The other side
“We are going according to strict instructions from the High Court, which we cannot violate. Due to the limit on the number of vehicles, our staff members face tremendous work pressure. We are going to appeal for reconsideration of the decision. Our demand is to relax the restriction or recruit additional RTO inspectors to handle the task,” said Sanjay Dhaygude, deputy RTO, Pune. Baba Shinde, former member of the Regional Transport Authority, said, “It is an interim order of the court and not the final decision. We are going to appeal for reconsideration. For that we have surveyed the number of vehicles in the state and number of staff at the RTO. It is impractical to limit the number of vehicles appearing for fitness certificate because there is a staff shortage.” 

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