After receiving several complaints about autorickshaw drivers overcharging passengers during the odd-even period, the Delhi government Friday launched a special drive against them and issued challans to as many as 475 drivers.
Transport Minister Gopal Rai said, “We had been receiving complaints on our helpline about autorickshaw drivers charging exorbitant fares. We launched a drive today and persecuted 150 autorickshaw drivers till 2 pm.”
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A transport department official said they had received most of the complaints from crowded areas like railway stations, inter-state bus terminuses, tourist sites and metro stations. “We flagged down autorickshaws and asked passengers if the drivers were going by meter. Wherever we found that drivers were overcharging passengers, we issued challans against them,” said the official.
In the first phase of odd-even in January, enforcement officials of the transport department were deployed to challan four-wheelers violating the norms as well as autorickshaws that were arbitrarily charging passengers. Hundreds of autorickshaws were challaned in the first two weeks of January. But the government did not issue any order to challan autorickshaws in the second phase of the plan, .
However, autorickshaw drivers pointed out that they had to face a variety of issues, including endless traffic jams and paucity of passengers. “We have been complaining to the transport department… they should not blindly trust commuters who call on their helplines. We have our side of the story too. We have to face issues like long traffic jams, unavailability of passengers on deserted stretches. We have been asking for dynamic pricing but no one listens to us,” said Shravan Kumar, an autorickshaw driver.
In a meeting with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and other officials on March 28, a delegation of autorickshaw drivers had said that they should be given a chance to explain themselves after complaints by commuters.
Inderjeet Sachdeva, president of the Aam Aadmi Auto Sangh, said drivers who were overcharging passengers should be prosecuted. “We never say autodrivers should overcharge or not go by meter,” he said.
The government had earlier this week warned app-based taxi companies like Uber and Ola against overcharging passengers and asked them to suspend the practice of ‘surge pricing’.