The Maharashtra state transport department, on Wednesday, ruled out any possibility of a hike in auto fares, at least in the near future. The department held a meeting with 12 auto unions, after the HC asked it to meet with all stakeholders following auto union leader Sharad Rao’s declaration of a 3-day-strike from Thursday.
At the meeting, called by transport secretary SK Sharma, the transport department, in keeping with the high court order, decline to offer any fare hike saying the matter was sub-judice.
Transport department officials also clarified that they had not granted any fare hike for autos last May either. At that time, the government accepted the Hakim committee report and said it would agree to an annual fair revision if the rise in basic fare per kilometer was 50 paise or more. However, officials said that as per the government’s calculations, the increase was only 40 paise.
Transport department also agreed to share their calculations for fare hike last May. “We have asked them to submit their calculations within a week, if those differ from us,” said Sharma.
Interestingly, except for the fare hike, the Mumbai Auto rickshawmen’s Union refused to put any other demand on the table at the meeting.
“The transport department had specified that the meeting had been called on the fare hike issue, as per the high court’s directive. So, we did not raise any other issue,” said Shashank Rao, assistant general secretary of the MAU.
MGP, however, kept away from the meeting. Other auto unions, including the co-ordination committee of rickshaw unions (CCRU), were present.
“We discussed all our demands, such as re-issuing of 34,000 dormant auto permits, temporary badges for drivers, withdrawal of the Rs100 fee charged every day for delayed fitness certificates, and other demands. They assured us they would resolve some of them,” said Thumpi Kurian, leader of Mumbai Rickshawmen’s association.