Autorickshaw users expect smooth ride after court order

November 12th, 2011 - 8:46 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 12 (IANS) Commuters in Delhi are hoping that the Supreme Court’s nod for issuing 100,000 fresh autorickshaw permits would mean greater competition and an end to their woes related to fleecing and drivers’ misbehaviour.

At present, around 55,000 autorickshaws ply on Delhi roads.

Lifting the ban imposed on issuing fresh permits in 1997, the court Friday allowed the government to issue one lakh additional autorickshaw permits.

Natasha Nautiyal, who commutes daily between her south Delhi house and Noida office, said: “I am not sure if it will make much difference because even at present the availability of autorickshaws is not a problem. The real issue is they don’t go by meter and fleece the passengers. I hope more competition brings about some positive change.”

For Ruchika, a resident of north Delhi, who works in south Delhi’s Okhla: “The problem is autorickshaw drivers’ attitude.”

Ashok Kumar Tiwari, vice president of Bhartiya Tipahiya Chalak Sangh Congress, welcomed the judgment saying it would provide some relief to commuters.

“The number of autorickshaws was less so there was a huge monopoly among the drivers, who charged high fares when commuters were in emergency or hurry,” he said.

If the government issues one lakh more permits, then commuters would have a choice to take the vehicle whose driver followed the fare rules.

Nikhil Damodaran, who lives in Patpargaj in east Delhi pays Rs.200 for his autorickshaw travel up to Nizammudin railway station - almost double the official fare. He hoped once the new autorickshaws hit the road, he would not be fleeced.

S.K. Bhatia, president of All Delhi Auto Taxi Federation, has also welcomed the apex court decision saying that the commuters would not have to pay more than the official fare after one lakh additional autorickshaws were introduced.

Rohit Baluja, president of the Institute of Road Traffic Education (IRTE), welcomed the judgment and said: “The state government will be inviting further chaos on the city’s already-crowded roads if it allowed an autorickshaw influx without fixing some of the key problems associated with it.”

“They should first create parking lots and stands for autorickshaws all over Delhi, so that they do not create traffic jams like they do presently,” said Baluja

There are nearly 70 lakh private vehicles in the capital, more than the number of vehicles in major Indian metros like Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai.

The apex court ordered a freeze on the number of autoriskshaws Dec 16, 1997, in a bid to arrest pollution. The court frozen the figure to the number of autorickshaws actually on the road.

The ban had been imposed on reports suggesting that the two-stroke engine autorickshaws contributed to 80 per cent of vehicular pollution in the capital. The city’s autorickshaw fleet later switched to CNG fuel and four-stroke technology.

The Delhi government filed an application before the apex court in 2002 seeking permission to issue more permits.

The application pointed out that the concerns of the court had been met by upgrading the technology and mandating the use of CNG as fuel in commercial vehicles.

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