Strike takes autos off Delhi roads, commuters hit

February 28th, 2012 - 4:23 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 28 (IANS) Thousands of Delhi residents used to travelling by auto-rickshaws for their regular commute were hit Tuesday as many drivers of these ubiquitous three-wheelers joined a nationwide trade union strike.

The capital has around 55,000 auto-rickshaws. With a large number of these not plying, many people complained of a tough time in reaching their places of work and study.

“The buses are crowded, there is no certainty about their frequency and the Metro line is far from my house. So I am dependent on autos,” said a furious Riyaz Qadir, a resident of Jamia Nagar.

Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) claimed they were plying extra buses.

“We usually ply about 5,100 buses in the city. But today (Tuesday) we are plying 200 extra buses for passenger convenience,” Sharat Kumar, spokesperson for DTC, told IANS.

But people said the DTC bus frequency was low.

A businessman from east Delhi, Premjeet Singh, complained that he walked around two kilometres from his home to the nearest Metro station as he could not get an auto.

“I had to walk about two kilometres to the Metro station, as I couldn’t get an auto,” Premjeet said.

Auto and taxi union leaders said they were participating in the strike to protest government policies.

“The prices are skyrocketing but despite that auto fares haven’t been increased. Apart from this, the government has given a contract to the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMMTS) to install the Global Positioning System (GPS) in autorickshaws.

“DIMMTS is providing GPS for Rs.15,000 while in the markets it’s available for Rs.2,500,” M.S. Mansoori, Delhi state chairman of the Rastriya Rajdhani Kshetra Tipahiya Chalak Union, told IANS.

As many as 11 trade unions, having about eight lakh public sector employees, barring the railways, are participating in the strike. The unions are demanding an end to contract labour, amendments to the Minimum Wages Act, an increase in gratuity payout and compulsory registration of trade unions within 45 days.

The auto strike proved to be a bonanza for cycle rickshaw-pullers. Some of them gleefully stated that they earned an entire week’s income Tuesday.

“The autos were not plying, so many took a rickshaw for the nearby Metro stations and I have earned today what I usually earn in a week,” Babu Ram, a rickshaw-puller, said.

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