Maharashtra auto-rickshaws on three-day strikeApril 22nd, 2008 - 4:26 pm ICT by admin
Mumbai, April 22 (IANS) Commuters had a harrowing time as auto-rikshaws across Maharashtra went off the roads Tuesday, commencing a three-day strike against a government proposal to install electronic meters. “We have launched the protest against the state government’s decision to make electronic meters compulsory in all auto-rickshaws. Auto-rickshaw drivers and owners across the state have confirmed their participation in the strike,” Thamty Kurian, working president of the Mumbai Autorickshaw Union, told IANS.
Kurian, while addressing reporters here, said union leaders plan to meet Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and transport officials to discuss the matter.
The union claims that around 3,000 auto-rickshaws are awaiting registration with the Road Transport Office, as no firm decision had been taken over the mandatory installation of electronic meters.
Kurian said that the electronic meters were expensive - around Rs.3,000 apiece - and may also get damaged during the monsoons.
“A majority of the auto-rickshaw drivers may not be able to shell out the amount. And they can be stolen easily” he pointed out.
Although civic authorities have deployed extra buses to cope with the absence of the 55,000 auto-rickshaws in the city, commuters were badly hit.
“Reaching office was a chaotic and time-consuming effort. The buses were overcrowded and I stood in the queue for 45 minutes. It was hot and humid and I was in a total mess by the time I reached office two hours later,” said Prasad Nayak, an accountant working in an audit firm.
With commercial complexes coming up in the suburbs, auto-rickshaws have become a popular mode of transport as they operate across the entire western, eastern and northern suburbs.