PUNE will now have more auto-rickshaws plying on its roads as the state government has done away with a restriction on issuing of new auto-rickshaw permits by the Regional Transport Office (RTO). Presently, there are 46,006 auto-rickshaws in the city. This number is expected to see a 25-30 per cent spike in the coming years. On June 17, the state Home department brought out a circular by which it discontinued the restrictions imposed on issuance of fresh permits by the then government in 1997.
Following a directive from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, the state government had then directed all the RTOs in the state to take steps to restrict the number of auto permits in Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Nagpur, Solapur, Nashik and Aurangabad to the number that was on that day. Since then, the number of auto-rickshaw permits in these cities have remained unchanged.
Auto-rickshaw unions have long been demanding the restriction be done away with, citing growing city populations and unemployment rates. Baba Shinde, an auto-rickshaw union leader, said, “Earlier, the RTOs used to follow a thumb rule while deciding on the number of permits a city should have. It was to grant 800 auto-rickshaw permits for every 1 lakh population. However, this was discontinued in 1997 although the population of the city continued to grow. Finally, good sense has prevailed and the restrictions have been removed.”
Shinde said the city needs 10,000 more rickshaws considering the passenger volume. “More rickshaws will be good for everyone, for passengers as well as the unemployed youth. Also, it will break the monopoly of goons who hold multiple permits and mint money by renting the rickshaws.”
Pune RTO Babasaheb Ajri said the new circular by the state government means buying and driving an auto-rickshaw will be like buying a motorcycle or car. “We have already started implementing the order. It will definitely result in getting more rickshaws on the road. It will also stop the practice of illegally running scrapped auto-rickshaws,” said Ajri.
Demand for new permits becomes amply clear from the fact that last year when Pune RTO had invited applications for re-issuance of 3,200 permits which were “dead” due to non-renewal by their owners for four years, the office had received as many as 20,000 applications from Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad.