Updated: September 19, 2021 5:59:29 pm
After drawing much flak for inaction against autorickshaws plying illegally in the city, the Pune city police and the Regional Transport Office have jointly rounded up 527 autorickshaws which flouted norms.
Regional Transport Officer Ajit Shinde said the action was taken at four places including Pune railway station area, Swargate, Shivajinagar and Baner. “We will soon cover other places in the city,” he said.
The drive comes in the wake of the rape of a 14-year-old girl who was allegedly kidnapped from Pune railway station by an autorickshaw driver. Police have made 19 arrests in the case so far, of which many are autorickshaw drivers who did not possess the necessary documents for plying the vehicles.
As many as 41 autorickshaws have been confiscated and fines imposed on 486 drivers over 10 days. “Most of the confiscations happened around the Pune railway station area. The drivers were found plying autos without insurance documents and fitness certificates. Some of them did not even have a licence,” RTO Inspector Abhijit Gaikwad told The Indian Express today.
“Violations include not carrying badges or pinning them on their pockets, not wearing khaki uniforms, not possessing licences, not having side bars on the right side of the vehicle, not displaying vehicle number behind the driver’s seat, lack of meter or tampered/malfunctioning meter,” said Gaikwad.
The fine amount ranged from Rs 200 for not wearing the uniform to Rs 2,300 for not possessing insurance documents. “As for permits, the autorickshaws have been given time till September 30 after which action will be taken against those who do not have permits,” Gaikwad said, adding that there are 72,000 autorickshaws in the city.
The teen rape victim was allegedly offered a lift by an autorickshaw driver who also promised to find her a place to stay. She was then taken to various places and raped over the next several hours by the man, his accomplices and others.
Police Commissioner Amit Gupta said strict action will be taken against “criminal elements” masquerading as autorickshaw drivers and that short-term, medium term and long-term actions are being planned to prevent crime against women at railway stations and other locations.
The Commissioner said meetings have been held with stakeholders such as railway authorities, RTO and Pune Municipal Corporation officials to increase CCTV coverage in such places and arrange better lighting facilities, besides conducting regular patrolling.
Baba Kamble, president of Maharashtra Rickshaw Panchayat, said, “We have been consistently demanding action against illegal autorickshaws all over the city. We suspect that there are at least 1,000 autorickshaws plying illegally in the Pune station area. The police take action, but these are half-hearted measures. Strong steps are needed against such criminals as their illegal activities tarnish the image of autorickshaws drivers who work honestly.”
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