There are merely 4,500 registered auto-rickshaws — 500 registered in Punjab and 4,000 registered with the State Transport Authority (STA), Chandigarh — which can ply in Chandigarh. Not a single auto-rickshaw registered in Haryana can enter Chandigarh for commercial purposes, according to recent scrutiny of all the registered and valid auto-rickshaws in the city.
The scrutiny was conducted by STA, Sector 18, Chandigarh, in the wake of recent guidelines issued by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which instructed the UT traffic police to challan the auto-rickshaws running in Chandigarh without fare meters. The findings have come amidst reports of thousands of unregulated auto-rickshaws running in the city and charging exorbitant fares.
STA secretary Harjeet Singh Sandhu said, “Along with the UT traffic police, we are also authorised to challan the autos running without fare meters. In the wake of recent guidelines, we scrutinised our records and concluded only 4,500 autos can run in Chandigarh legally. These 4,500 autos include 500 registered with Punjab Transport Authority, mainly with Mohali district. We will share these findings with Chandigarh traffic police, which is going to launch a challan drive against the auto-rickshaws. Not a single auto-rickshaw registered with Haryana Transport Authority is allowed to ferry passengers in Chandigarh. However, more than 4,500 auto-rickshaws are running in Chandigarh. We are challaning them randomly. A total of 96 such autos of Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana were challaned in the last one month.”
Sources said in 2008, a mutual agreement was signed between the Chandigarh Administration and Punjab State Transport Department saying only 500 Punjab autos can run within Chandigarh and vice versa. No such agreement was signed with the Haryana authorities. STA has stopped the registration of new autos since April 2008. Currently, permits of those auto-rickshaws which have completed 15 years of life are not being renewed in Chandigarh.
A senior STA officer said, “The prime reason behind the entrance of Haryana-registered auto-rickshaws in Chandigarh is the absence of any CNG gas station in Panchkula. CNG-operated autos from Kalka, Pinjore and other parts of Panchkula come to Chandigarh for filing CNG. When they come, they pick passengers in an unauthorised manner.”
Three companies for installing fare meters in Chandigarh
A fare meter, which is mandatory in autos running in Chandigarh, costs between Rs 1,800 and Rs 2,500. Three authorised agencies registered with STA are at Motor Market in Sector 48. Kirti Sharma, owner of one of the agencies, said, “The majority of autos registered with STA, Chandigarh, are equipped with fare meters. The problem is with Punjab-registered autos. Haryana’s autos are not allowed to enter Chandigarh. Since October 6, when UT traffic police started an awareness drive, one or two auto drivers have been approaching us for fare meters every day.” Nishu Soni, another dealer in fare meters, said the response will increase in coming days when challans are issued for not using fare meters.
The Legal Metrology Wing of Department of Food & Supplies and Consumer Affairs checks the fare meters and issues one-year permit in the name of auto-rickshaw’s owner. The one-year permit is renewed every year.
On October 5, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had instructed the SSP, Traffic, to challan the auto-rickshaws running without fare meters after conducting awareness drive for three weeks with effect from October 5.