The state transport department is in the final stages of making electronic meters compulsory for auto rickshaws. But, the move has raised the hackles of auto rickshaw unions who feel their point of view wasn’t taken even though they are part of the committee where the issue was discussed.
The Mumbai Auto Rickshaw Union is now planning to oppose this move saying the state transport department is taking the decision in haste.
“We are members of the committee that is responsible for discussing this issue. The Transport department, without taking our view, has gone ahead and is now planning to make it mandatory. We will oppose it,” said Shashank Rao, secretary, Mumbai Auto Rickshaw Union.
On Tuesday, the state electronic meter committee decided to make electronic meters mandatory for all new autorickshaws in the city. “The proposal is in its final stages of approval now,” said a transport official on condition of anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Every year, at least 4,000 new autos are introduced that replace those in the existing fleet. In all, there are 1.04 lakh auto rickshaws plying in the eastern and western suburbs.
The auto union claims that the cost of an electronic meter is around Rs. 3,000, which is Rs. 1,500 more than the mechanical ones.
The motive behind making electronic meters mandatory is to prevent auto operators from fleecing commuters. But, unions insist the new meters can be tampered with. “We have already demonstrated how these electronic meters can be tampered with. So, it would be nothing more than a loss for the poor auto driver who has to shell out money for this meter,” said another member of the Mumbai Auto Rickshaw Union.
Officials at the Regional Transport Office disagree. They said auto unions are hesitant to shift from mechanical meters because, if properly calibrated, electronic meters cannot be tampered with.
Recently, the transport department had sent a letter to the Union stating that they were in the process of deciding the dealers and suppliers of electronic meters.