Over 90 per cent autorickshaws remained off roads on Monday as part of the day-long token strike called by autorickshaw unions all over the state. The auto unions are protesting against the mandatory electronic meters and a hike of Rs 500 in the annual premium for third party insurance. However,autorickshaws in Pimpri-Chinchwad did not participate in the strike.
The city has a total of about 50,000 autorickshaws. Earlier,the auto owners had to pay annual insurance premium of Rs 2,600-2,700 but from April 2012 it was increased to Rs 3,100-3,200. Last year in April,it was increased from around Rs 1,700 to Rs 2,700. Rickshaw unions are of the view that as rickshaws fall under the low risk -low premium category,an increase Rs 1,500 in the last two years is unjustified.
Later in the day,\Mumbai Autorickshaw Mens Union led by Sharad Rao,met Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar who assured them that a meeting of autorickshaw unions with the state government will held in 15 days time to discuss the issues.
Nitin Pawar,convener,Rickshaw Panchayat,said,The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority has announced a hike in the third party insurance of autorickshaws. We have been put in the same group as buses,mini-buses and vans even though the rates of accidents of autorickshaws is much less compared to these vehicles. It doesnt make make sense for us to pay such a high annual premium.
Pawar added that a protest march was held by various rickshaw unions in front of the district collectors office and a memorandum was submitted in his office. As the district collector is also the chairman of the Regional Transport Authority (RTA),we felt the need to bring our problems to his notice also, added Pawar.
Nana Kshisagar,president,Maharashtra Rickshaw Sena,said,Making electronic meters mandatory is not acceptable to us as they will not solve the problems of commuters. It will only add to the expenses of the autorickshaw owners.