Autorickshaw drivers in Maharashtra call off strike (Lead)

April 22nd, 2008 - 9:18 pm ICT by admin  


Mumbai, April 22 (IANS) People heaved a sigh of relief as autorickshaw drivers and owners across Maharashtra called off their proposed three-day strike after the government put on hold installation of new electronic metres on all new autorickshaws. The decision to call off the strike and put off for two months compulsory installation of new electronic metres on all autorickshaws was taken after a delegation of autorickshaw drivers and owners met Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh Tuesday evening.

From Tuesday morning, around 1.40 million autorickshaw drivers across the state went on strike, protesting against the installation of new electronic metres, which the government made compulsory last year, said Mumbai Auto rickshaw Union working president Thamty Kurian.

Kurian told IANS after meeting Deshmukh that the state government would prepare a report on the contentious issue before taking a final decision.

The union leader said around 3,000 autorickshaws were awaiting registration with the Road Transport Offices across the state as there was no clear decision yet about the mandatory installation of electronic metres.

The state has a total of 700,000 autorickshaws, which are run by 1.40 million drivers in two shifts. In many towns and cities of the state, autorickshaws are the mainstay of public transport system in the absence of government-run city bus service.

Kurian said that besides the electronic metres being expensive - each one costs a minimum of Rs.3,000 - they also may get damaged during the monsoon.

“Most rickshaw drivers, who work on daily wages, cannot afford to shell out this amount. Moreover, the electronic metres can be stolen easily,” he said.

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