Fearing crackdown, autos avoid Andheri

Published: 20 October, 2011 08:28 IST | Nivedita Dargalkar |

Instead of mending their ways, errant autos are avoiding the rickshaw stand at Andheri station causing far more inconvenience to commuters

Instead of mending their ways, errant autos are avoiding the rickshaw stand at Andheri station causing far more inconvenience to commuters

As the traffic police continue to crackdown on errant auto rickshaws at Andheri station (East), the autos have devised a strategy to counter the long arm of the law.

On day 7 of MiD DAY's Meter Down campaign, the cunning auto drivers have stopped plying to Andheri station.
Over the past six days, nearly 50 auto drivers have been fined and had their licences confiscated for refusing to ply and for breaking the queue at Andheri station.

No autos in sight: The serpentine queue of commuters waiting at the
rickshaw stand outside Andheri station yesterday. pic/Mahesh Chafe
The move may seem to have worked for the errant autos, but in the bargain it is the aam aadmi that has to bear the brunt for the auto drivers' arrogance. Yesterday, commuters had to wait for as long as 45 minutes at the rickshaw stand before they got a ride to their respective destinations.

Commuters speak
Tranil Sawant (27), a software engineer, said, "Usually, it takes 15 minutes for me to get a rickshaw from the stand. However, today, the line was moving very slowly. This happened because there were less rickshaws at the station road."
According to Jagdeep Singh (28), "Mostly, it takes about 15 mins to get a rickshaw. But today, it took over 45 minutes, and despite that people are still waiting in the queue. I am afraid I will be late for work." Krunal Jivani (29), a salesman, said, "I take an auto from this rickshaw stand every day. However, it never takes this long to get one, like its taking today. The line is moving very slowly as there are very few rickshaws on the road. Moreover, the heat is making the wait unbearable."

Bhavna Sodhi (31), a psychologist, said, "I hope the line moves quickly as I have prior appointments. I do not want to keep my patients waiting."

Place: Outside Andheri Station
Time: 5pm-7pm
Offenders caught: 1

Commuters speak:
Surekha Sawant said, "I have a four-year-old physically challenged daughter, whom I need to carry around in my arms. I've been waiting here for the past 25 minutes. However, almost all the empty autorickshaws, with their meters half down, sped past us when I tried halting one."

Licence please: An auto driver being fined for refusing to ply passengers.
Pic/ Shadab Khan

Traffic constable Kantaram Vaydande, who has been penalising errant rickshaw drivers at Andheri East for the past one week, said, "I have observed that the number of rickshaws coming to Andheri station have reduced significantly over the past one week. Most of the errant drivers are aware of this initiative and that the traffic cops are fining those drivers who refuse to ply passengers. Hence, it seems that they have decided to play it safe and are choosing to ply passengers from destinations like Marol, MIDC, instead of coming to station in search of fare."

Spot of bother:
Driver Arvind Mane was caught by traffic constable Kantaram Vaydande for refusing to ply a passenger, who wanted to go to a nearby place, but readily agreed to ply one, who wanted to travel long distance.
Seeing that his licence was about to get confiscated, Mane started arguing that the person who wanted to travel long distance had approached him first. Hence, he cannot be charged for differentiating and refusal for plying.

However, after Vaydande took Vilas Kamble's statement, who wanted to commute to the a nearby destination, it became apparent that Mane was lying and that it was Kamble who had approached him first. Following this revelation, Vaydande then confiscated Mane's licence.

Text: Nivedita Dargalkar

Place: Ghatkopar Station (W)
Time: 9am-11am
Offenders caught: 7

Commuters speak:
Rakesh Ogle said, "Rickshaw drivers ask us where we want to go only when they see the traffic police. Otherwise, in Ghatkopar, often the commuters have to walk on the jam-packed roads to find those autorickshaws which are ready to ply them to their desired destinations."

Ishita Rawal said, "I am looking forward to the new electronic meters, as I find these old ones a little too fishy. The meter readings are consistently inconsistent."

Auto drivers speak:
Ranjit Mudliyar: "The headlight of my auto is broken after the recent downpour, and could give away anytime. The reason I refused fares so that I could go and get the headlight fixed." However, when traffic constable Galande brought to his notice that it's been over three days  since it rained last and questioned him that why didn't her do the repair work then, Mudliyar kept mum.

Spot of bother:
According to rickshaw driver Ramkrishna Chaturvedi, "My meter was half down as I was plying my relatives home. My uncle is a milkman and regularly visits  a dairy that is located in this area. Hence I was ferrying him and a my neighbours, with a half down meter. This was reason why I refused other passengers." To prove his point, Chaturvedi, even produced his uncle to escape the fine. But the two men on their way to Chembur, his so-called neighbours, didn't even know his name.
Text: Maleeva Rebello

Place: Nehru Nagar, Kurla
Time: 10:30am-12:30pm
Offender Caught: 2

Commuters Speak:

Asha Kamble, a housewife, who had come for shopping, said, "The campaign is a good way to penalise the arrogant rickshaw drivers.The last time a rickshaw driver refused to ply was near Kurla station. Bust as the traffic official on duty tried to stop him, the driver fled the spot." 
Auto Driver speaks:
Rajesh Yadav: "It was my mistake that I refused the passenger. I will never repeat it again. If my licence gets suspended, then I wouldn't be able to pay the monthly instalments for my autorickshaw on time."

Text: Faisal G Tandel

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