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NO BUDGING : Both sides firm

On the fifth day of the ongoing auto strike,the standoff between the autorickshaw drivers and the Regional Transport Authority.

Written by Express News Service | Pune |
May 6, 2009 3:34:07 am

On the fifth day of the ongoing auto strike,the standoff between the autorickshaw drivers and the Regional Transport Authority (RTA) continued with both parties refusing to yield.

Baba Adhav,president of the Rickshaw Panchayat,said from Wednesday the strike would be expanded to include other people’s organisations who were supporting the autorickshaw drivers. On the other hand,RTO Chandrakant Kharatmal,secretary of the RTA,said,“We are implementing the fare revision as per government order. The fare structure across Maharashtra is Rs 7 per km whereas in Pune it was Rs 8 per kilometre. We are trying to make it uniform.”

Adhav said,“MLAs Girish Bapat,Kamal Dhole-Patil and Chandrakant Shivarkar have extended support to us.”

The autorickshaw unions also said the manner in which the RTA managed the fare revision was wrong and smacked of duplicity. “Why did they wait for two months? Why are they now de-linking CNG from fare revision,when this is what they were harping about for two months,” Adhav said.

According to rickshaw unions,this move to revise auto fares after the elections was fishy. “There would be up to four lakh voters comprising autorickshaw drivers,their families and those related to the autorickshaw business. Had they revised the rates at that time,we would have given a call to boycott the polls. Out of the 40 per cent who voted this time,12 per cent were autorickshaw families,” said Bapu Bhave,another leading union leader.

Several auto drivers also slammed the police. “We are fighting to run rickshaws at Rs 10 per km,and the RTA is not allowing that. But they are encouraging others to ferry commuters at exorbitant rates. They are not cracking down on those transporters,” said an auto driver.

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