Mumbai Rains: More showers expected, but autos to ply

Updated: Jul 09, 2019, 07:30 IST | Rajendra B. Aklekar | Mumbai

As IMD predicts 48 hours of heavy rain, state slashes BEST ticket prices to counter autorickshaw strike call

Autorickshaws all over the state will ply as usual today. File Pic
Autorickshaws all over the state will ply as usual today. File Pic

The autorickshaw unions called off their indefinite strike late last night following intervention by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who has called a meeting between union leaders and Transport Minister Diwakar Raote today. State authorities also moved quickly to implement its Rs 5 minimum fare for BEST from Tuesday.

Confirming this to mid-day, union leader Shashank Sharad Rao said he got a message from the chief minister's office about the meeting at 3 pm on Tuesday. Post the auto unions' announcement to go ahead with strike, state authorities moved quickly and decided to implement the new minimum fare of R5 for BEST from Tuesday itself. This probably played a part in forcing the auto unions to call off the strike. BEST chief spokesperson Hanumant Gophane confirmed to mid-day that the new bus fares would be applicable from Tuesday.

Also Read: Shut Ola-Uber, give us PF, pension, Maharashtra automen threaten strike from July 9

The state government issued the notification approving the fares late in the night, clearing the way for the BEST to implement it at any moment. At the time of going to press, the notification was in the process of being published at the Government Press at Charni Road in the presence of BEST officials. BEST officials said the decision will come into force on Tuesday itself.

Auto Strike
Auto unions had decided to strike after giving the government a month to mull over their demands. File Pic

Following the inconclusive talks with state transport secretary Ashish Kumar Singh on Monday afternoon, Shashank Rao, president of the Autorickshaw Chalak Malak Samyukt Kruti Samiti, an umbrella body of autorickshaw unions across the state, had confirmed that the strike was going to be held all over the state except Thane, because the trade unions affiliated to the Shiv Sena that have a stronghold there had decided not to join them.

Rao said the decision came after they gave the state government time to mull over their demands, "The meeting with the transport secretary was inconclusive because they just assessed our demands but said nothing about the implementation."

The Thane Autorickshawmen's Union said they supported all the demands of the umbrella autorickshaw union as they were valid, but since it has been raining in the state, going on a strike at a time like this could have led to great inconvenience for school and college-going students and cause other complications. "Hence, we decided not to go off the roads. If the demands are not met even after the meeting with the transport minister on Tuesday, we have threatened to intensify our agitation further," said Chetan Ambonkar, secretary of Thane Autorickshawmen's Union.

Also Read: Mumbai Rains: Wall collapses on autorickshaw stand in Chembur, no casualties reported

When mid-day reached out to state minister of transport Diwakar Raote, he refused to comment on the issue but said, "I will call a press conference and invite all of you when I want to make my stand clear."

Shashank Rao
Shashank Rao, autorickshaw union leader

Despite notice

Meanwhile, upon being asked why the union is choosing treating commuters this way in the monsoon, Rao said the government should have thought about it earlier. "We had a meeting of state-wide autorickshaw representatives on June 9 at Goregaon. Following deliberations, we drew up a list of demands and approached the government, asking them to consider the list within a month. The government has not acted despite being given a notice," Rao told mid-day.

The demands

The major demands of the union include shutting down app-based cab services like Ola and Uber, curbing the menace of illegal autorickshaws, implementing the Hakim Committee report's recommendations, bringing stricter control over issuance of permits and setting up a welfare board for autorickshaw drivers that can give them facilities like a provident fund, state insurance, etc. Moreover, the union had also demanded a minimum hike of Rs 4 to Rs 6 per km till June 30. Currently, the minimum fare is Rs 18.

Also read: Auto strike called off after CM Devendra Fadnavis intervenes

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