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Sheila wants autos off Delhi roads

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit announced that her govt wants to phase out auto-rickshaws from the Capital.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi |
March 18, 2010 11:53:33 pm

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Wednesday announced in the state Assembly on Wednesday that her government wants to phase out auto-rickshaws from the Capital.

“Auto-rickshaws are not a good option — they are uncomfortable and pollute environment. Also,auto-rickshaw drivers are unruly and harass passengers,” Dikshit said.

Over one lakh challans were issued against auto-rickshaw drivers in the last year.

Dikshit said the Delhi government is preparing a detailed plan to phase out auto-rickshaws.

“We are looking at the option of electric cars and even electric motorcycles,” she said. “I was recently told that cycles are fitted with electric motor — this will be a good option for travelling short distances.”

Dikshit later issued a clarification that the phaseout process will begin once the government has an alternative plan in place.

Her announcement came when the Assembly was discussing the traffic situation in the Capital. The discussion shifted to auto-rickshaws after Transport minister Arvinder Singh Lovely hinted that the government was looking at various alternatives to introduce battery run six-seaters or larger vehicles for short-distance travel.

Interestingly,BJP leader Jagdish Mukhi demanded that instead of alternatives like radio taxis,the government should increase number of auto-rickshaws.

But Dikshit’s announcement left the Transport department in a spot,as there is no concrete plan yet to replace auto-rickshaws.

The Chief Minister’s statement was also in contrast with the Centre’s Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA),which,on January 30,had filed a report on Delhi’s traffic situation in the Supreme Court,seeking a withdrawal of the 12-year freeze on issuing new permits to auto-rickshaws.

On September 16,1997,the Supreme Court had ordered that only 55,000 auto-rickshaws s could be run on Delhi’s roads. A new vehicle could only be introduced as a replacement,with the permit passing on from the old owner to the new,according to the apex court’s order.

But the EPCA contends that a freeze on fresh permits has pushed the public transport system into the hands of the financier mafia.

Since permits are in such demand,original permit-holders have begun to sell them to financiers and middlemen. These men,who have formed a cartel and dominate the auto-rickshaw market,sell the vehicle and the accompanying permit for a premium. While the showroom price of an auto-rickshaw is Rs 1.25 lakh,financiers charge Rs 4.5 lakh.

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