The state government will issue one lakh new permits for auto-rickshaws in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, and increase the number of three-wheelers by 25 per cent in cities like Pune, Solapur, Nagpur, Nashik and Aurangabad.
New auto-rickshaws will have to be compulsorily fitted with Global Positioning System (GPS) and drivers seeking permits should be able to speak Marathi, State Transport Minister Diwakar Raote said.
“There won’t be a separate test or appraisal of Marathi-speaking skills of an applicant. We will ensure that the applicant of a permit has been a resident in the region for 15 years, with proper proof of domicile, an Aadhaar card, electricity bill and so on. Any person staying in Maharashtra that long will certainly be able to speak at least broken Marathi,” Raote, a Shiv Sena leader, said.
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The new permits will take the total number of auto-rickshaws in Mumbai Metropolitan Region to 3 lakh. The Mumbai Metropolitan Region comprises areas such as Kalyan, Dombivli, Thane, Bhiwandi, Ambernath, Vasai, Virar, Badlapur, Navi Mumbai, Alibaug, Pen, Panvel, Matheran, Pen, Khopoli, Uran and Karjat, besides Mumbai.
Of the cities that will see a 25 per cent boost in auto-rickshaws, Pune has 43,599 rickshaws, Pimpri-Chinchwad has 4,888, Nashik has 12,825, Aurangabad has 11,200, and Solapur has 6,065, the transport minister said.
“Permits for auto-rickshaws and taxis had been frozen at the 1997 levels as per the population of cities at that time. We decided to increase the number of permits after studying the phenomenal population growth between 1998 and 2015. We will soon come out with a similar policy for taxis as well,” Raote said.
The new permits would be allotted by November through a lottery system, and the state government will charge Rs 15,000 for permits in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region and Rs 10,000 for the rest of the state.
The government will launch a month-long drive in October to revive nearly 1.4 lakh auto-rickshaw permits that have lapsed in the state, charging Rs 20,000 in Mumbai Metropolitan Region and Rs 15,000 in the rest of the state. As per norms, drivers are expected to renew permits within 6 months of expiry, and will be charged Rs 100 for every month after the date of expiry.
“Beyond six months, the government charges Rs 100 for every day of delay. There are many auto-rickshaws whose dues now run into thousands of rupees and they prefer operating illegally with expired permits,” Raote said.