May 7, 2009 3:04:32 am
From Thursday,Puneites will be paying a fare of Rs 10 for the first kilometer and Rs 7 for every subsequent kilometer,as all rickshaw unions called off the autorickshaw strike at around 9.30 pm on Wednesday.
The settlement was reached after the RTA and the rickshaw unions held talks,led by Ajit Pawar,Wedneday afternoon,in Mantralaya,Mumbai.
Across the state,it is Rs 7 for every subsequent kilometer after the first slab. The RTA told us that if a commuter files a PIL,they would be helpless,which is why we have withdrawn the strike, said Bapu Bhave,secretary,Pune City Autorickshaw Federation.
Not too many autorickshaw drivers were happy with this decision. What were we doing all these days then? This is a breach of faith by the union leaders. They have been compromised, said an autorickshaw driver. We are not satisfied. It feels like we have just about passed in an examination,not secured a distinction, admitted Baba Adhav,president of the Rickshaw Panchayat,speaking to the media after he broke his fast late in the evening.
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Earlier in the day,RTA officials said that the Rs 10 per km offer for the first kilometer had been made as a compromise. It was the guardian minister Ajit Pawar who put forth the idea, said Dilip Band,RTA chairperson.
We proposed Rs 10 to settle the matter. The strike has been going on for so many days and we felt even the unions should feel like they have gained, said RTO Chandrakant Kharatmal,who is the secretary of the RTA.
However,till evening,talks had proved inconclusive as the autorickshaw unions and the RTA left Mumbai without reaching a conclusion. The unions had been pushing for Rs 7.50 per extra kilometer 50 paise more than what the RTA was willing to offer. But pressure had been building on the striking autorickshaw drivers,as the RTA had managed to drive a wedge between the unions on Tuesday. The Pimpri Chinchwad unions had called off the strike after the RTA agreed not to enforce its ply by meter notification.
Nana Kshirsagar,of the Maharashtra Rickshaw Sena,said his union had withdrawn from the strike. On Wednesday early morning,his office was ransacked,allegedly in retaliation to this move. More than five days of strike have passed,the auto drivers are poor,they need to earn their living. We withdrew because we couldnt continue this way, said Kshirsagar.
As Tuesday drew to an end,helplessness and strain had set in among many autorickshaw drivers as well,who were spending the hours counting their losses. We do not have any other means of livelihood; it is a loss of around Rs 500 a day. We obviously want it to end as soon as possible,many of us are fed up but raising voice against this is impossible, an auto driver had said earlier on Wednesday.
One driver said his union leader had refused to give the approval letter to ferry his sick child in his own autorickshaw to the hospital. They told me to call for an ambulance. It was beyond what I could afford, he said. Auto rickshaw drivers said they were scared to move out in their autos for fear of attack. Not only were we losing money,we had to travel everywhere by bus, said another driver.
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