Want to drive an auto in Mumbai? Learn to read Marathi first

Starting today, the state’s Regional Transport Offices (RTOs) will be starting a ‘test’ for auto rickshaw drivers who have been short-listed for securing a permit. And what must a candidate do to qualify for the same? Read in Marathi. Taking a stand against what they term as a ‘laughable’ move, Mumbai’s auto union will start protesting this move outside the Andheri, Wadala and Borivali RTOs.

The auto union will carry out their protests against the move till March 5, outside the Andheri, Wadala and Borivali RTOs. File pic for representation
The auto union will carry out their protests against the move till March 5, outside the Andheri, Wadala and Borivali RTOs. File pic for representation

People who have won the lottery for auto rickshaw permits will give the tests. The state government wants to ensure the drivers know Marathi. For this, they will ask the auto drivers to read out literature written in Marathi. Sources said that although the transport department has removed the clause of a driver or permit holder being SSC pass, knowing the state language is necessary.

Shashank Rao, president, Mumbai Autorickshaw Taximen’s Union
Shashank Rao, president, Mumbai Autorickshaw Taximen’s Union

Mandatory
“We will be bringing these lottery winners in batches and would ask them to read out Marathi. It is mandatory for the drivers to know the local language, despite the education criteria being eased out,” said an RTO officer. The tests will continue till March 5.

The batches will contain winners from respective RTOs who will give these tests at Andheri, Wadala and Borivali RTOs. Earlier last year, the state transport department had lowered the educational criteria of permit winners from Std X to Std VIII, considering that outside the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, the qualification required for a permit is Std VIII.

Laughable 'test'
Meanwhile, the auto union claims that this is a laughable thing being done the government. They will continue their protest till March 5. Union leaders say the number of autos on road would not be affected much, but there would be a sufficient number of their members including auto drivers and permit holders who would join the protest.

“The RTOs will be asking these permit winners to read the Marathi language, which according to us is laughable. It seems that the authorities haven’t done any homework. The drivers should only know the local language and there is no need for them to read it out,” said Shashank Rao, president, Mumbai Autorickshaw Taximen’s Union.

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