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Friday, December 19, 2008

Despite govt orders passengers are at the mercy of auto drivers

Every day, when Mahendra Singh tries to take an auto from the Mira Road area to travel up to Borivli, he is turned down. The state government's notification of seamless travel within the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) is over nine months old. But not a single auto driver in the Mira-Bhayander region has obtained the requisite permission to ply outside the area.

Though the state government insists that seamless travel is in place, passengers are at the mercy of auto drivers who refuse to go beyond the Dahisar check naka. Police officials at Bhayander, Mira Road and Kashimira are busy playing mediator between passengers and auto drivers who are turning up at police stations to lodge complaints.

State transport secretary Ramanath Jha was unaware of the non-implementation of the seamless travel project. "The notification was out long ago and autos have to get their stamp of approval from the RTOs. Those failing to ply within the MMR region can be penalised,'' said Jha.

The notification for autos and taxis to ply across six municipal corporations and 13 civic councils was out in March this year. The Thane RTO, however, has till date not received a single request from an auto owner, asking for permission to ply outside his jurisdiction. The state, unfortunately, has left it to the vehicle owners to decide whether or not they want to ply outside their jurisdiction.

The primary reason for the auto drivers' refusal to ply outside their jurisdiction, is the Mumbai fare structure. Autos in the city ply at a minimum fare of Rs 9. In Thane, autos charge a minimum of Rs 10, and it goes up by Rs 1.50 per km as the distance increases. In Mira-Bhayander, autos charge a lump sum of Rs 35-Rs 50 for a distance that would otherwise not cost more than Rs 15-Rs 20. In Vasai-Virar and Kalyan-Dombivli, share autos fetch the driver between Rs 5 and Rs 10 per passenger. They carry at least five to seven passengers in each trip.
Auto drivers in Mira Road and Bhayander have so far resisted even the meter system as they make more money by carrying passengers on a share basis. "What is the use of introducing a scheme which does not take off? I quarrel with auto drivers almost every day. They just refuse to ply to Kandivli,'' said Bhayander resident Avinash Salil. "I end up taking another auto at the Dahisar check naka.''

Courtesy : Times OF India

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