Auto rickshaws across the city were seen plying with utmost discipline today,carrying four passengers and sticking to all the traffic rules but union leaders said it wont be possible for them to sustain for too long without a hike in fare and that the transport minister had not kept his word.
In the last meeting that we had with the transport minister,he had assured that there would be restructuring of fares but I guess he in the same position as former rail minister Dinesh Trivedi was. If our demands are not met,there will be a bigger movement, said Babun Ghosh,a senior member of CITU. He said it was not possible to run with the present fare structure,given the price of LPG.
INTTUC (Indian National Trinamool Trade Union Congress) leader Dola Sen,however,was quick to defend the government policies. A high power committee has been formed to look into the matter and prepare a report. The 12-member committee will look into all the aspects and put forward its suggestions. It has been done in a democratic fashion and things will change for the better. This is for the first time that a planned step has been taken to tame rowdy auto drivers, she said.
Transport minister Madan Mitra urged people to be patient. The problem was not created in one day and so will not be solved overnight. Auto drivers booked for flouting rules will be fined Rs 3,000. We have a sympathetic approach both for the auto drivers as well as commuters. As there will be no hike in fare,we are looking into the possibilities of raising funds through adverts. There will be glow signs atop auto rickshaws and flex behind the vehicles, he said.
Asked if the rules would be stringently applied at a prolonged basis and not fall flat on its face like it did in the previous attempts to tame auto drivers,Mitra said,The previous government did not make any serious attempts to implement rules. We will see to it that auto drivers have proper licence and abide by the rules.
Auto drivers were not happy on Day 1 of the rules. Every auto runs three families – the owner and the two drivers who work in shifts. Prices of all commodities are rising and we are expected to run with the same fare. If the owners generate extra income from adverts,how would that help us? asked a 20-plus driver in Park Circus.