The grounds of Phule Nagar Regional transport Office resemble a dumping yard, albeit one spread over half an acre. On November 11, the Satara RTO caught fire and many documents were destroyed.
When MiD Day surveyed the facility in Phule Nagar yesterday, we found that a large space in the premises is littered with scrapped auto rickshaws, creating a safety hazard. According to RTO norms set recently, when an auto completes 20 years, it must be discarded.
But, interestingly, when any autos in the area have to be dispensed with, the owners sell them directly to scrap vendors operating inside the Phule Nagar RTO site.
To dismantle or sever the parts of the three-wheelers, workers use gas-cutting machines, even as fuel tanks and CNG cylinders lie around. “We have been running our business here for many years.
When an auto is scrapped, the driver comes to us to sell it and, depending on the condition of the vehicle, we purchase for Rs 3,000 to Rs 8,000. After taking it, we dismantle it and sell the parts in the open market,” scrap dealer Satish Sapate said.
Though there is a substantial amount of risk involved in the whole process, given the large number of people that visits the area every day, there is not a single fire extinguisher in the entire premises of Phule Nagar RTO. About 3,000-4,000 individuals come here to work daily, and more than 1,000 different types of vehicles are brought in to be passed.
Speaking on the matter, deputy regional transport officer and in-charge of Phule Nagar RTO Ajit Shinde said, “The scrap vendors do not have any official permission to run their business on our premises.
After the Satara incident, security concerns have gone up, and we have told them to move the scrapped autos from here. I am going to ask the government for exact guidelines about this whole process, so we can take some action. Currently, the scrapping is being done by the vendors on their own, taking up space inside the RTO grounds.”
Here, at the Phule Nagar RTO, it is dangerous to dismantle autos, as in case of a fire emergency there is no equipment available to control the situation.
— Sharad Patil, auto rickshaw driver
“The wrecking of vehicles in the RTO premises should be banned immediately, as it has taken up a lot of space here. Every time I come here for work, there is a parking problem.
— Dhanaji Kale, auto driver