State Transport Minister Diwakar Raote's statement, that auto drivers cheat commuters the most, a day before their nationwide strike, drew sharp criticism from auto union leader Thampi Kurien
A day before auto, taxi and bus unions were set to go on a day-long nationwide strike to protest against the proposed amendments to the Road Transport and Safety Bill, 2014, state Transport Minister Diwakar Raote lashed out at auto drivers, alleging that they are the ones who cheat people the most.
Transport minister Diwakar Raote, flanked by Education minister Vinod Tawde (right) and local BJP MLA Manisha Chowdhary, at the inauguration of the new RTO office at Kandarpada, Dahisar (West). Pic/Nimesh Dave
“Based on the number of complaints I get from people, auto drivers are the ones who loot people the most. Citizens are fed up of auto drivers behaving according to their whims and fancies,” Raote said yesterday. Reacting sharply to Raote’s comments, auto union leader Thampi Kurien said that it was unacceptable for a minister to call auto drivers cheats.
“You cannot generalise. Just because there are a few rotten apples in the basket, it doesn’t mean that all the apples are rotten. We will surely express our views to him in writing,” said Kurien.
More in the offing
Raote also said that the scrapping of illegal autos was the need of the hour. The minister claimed that there are thousands of over-age autos, with expired permits, that are plying on the roads in the state and posing a threat to commuter safety.
Raote also wants a phase-wise installation of Global Positioning System (GPS) devices in all taxis black-and-yellow, cool and fleet cabs. On Monday, a meeting was held between the transport department officials and aggregators, who operate fleet cab services via cellphone apps.
Senior officials from the transport department said they have asked the aggregators to install tamper-proof GPS machines in their respective fleets.
Change in laws
As per the proposed amendments in the bill, fines levied on motorists for violating traffic rules are set to skyrocket. Once enacted, a motorist could be charged Rs 5,000 for jumping a signal or a fine of up to Rs 25,000 for driving under the influence of alcohol. Even the jail term for offences will be enhanced.