Taking a tough stance,the state government has decided to stipulate that electronic meters will be installed in the autorickshaws in Mumbai while asking rickshaw unions to stay away from striking work and holding commuters to ransom.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan held a meeting with representatives of the autorickshaw unions and senior state government officials on Sunday. A number of cities in the country will see electronic meters being fitted in the rickshaws and commuter associations had also called for these meters to be installed in Mumbai.
The governments stand that electronic meters need to be installed is clear and in the discussions,the rickshaw drivers have shown their acceptance, said Chavan. In old autorickshaws,meters which will not have a printer will be installed when the permits are renewed.
While some autorickshaw unions had asked for the condition regarding the applicant being domiciled in Maharashtra for 15 years being relaxed,Chavan said they had decided to continue with it apart from the stipulation that the driver must have at least three years experience. The government was positive on renewing 48,000 dead permits in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) while making it mandatory for them to have electronic meters.
The educational qualifications for the autorickshaw drivers has also been increased to Class X from the existing Class VIII. The state government is also positive to advertisements being put up in rickshaws as an additional source of revenue for the drivers. Chavan said the benefits of the proposed welfare board for the unorganised sector will also apply to autorickshaw drivers and owners.
The Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) will also make available designated areas for the drivers to park their autorickshaws.
Chavan said they were also open to allowing patients to take rickshaws to the civic-run Sion Hospital in exceptional circumstances though the demand from unions that the vehicles be allowed to ply in South Mumbai was rejected on the grounds that the island city has traffic congestion.