The co-ordination committee of autorickshaws unions, which are against the strike called by union leader Sharad Rao, has asked for protection to auto drivers and recovery of damages, if any, caused to the vehicles of those willing to ply on the day of the stir.
Demanding a fare hike in accordance with the Hakim committee formula among others, Rao has threatened to go on a 72-hour strike of auto rickshaws from August 21 midnight. He has formed an Auto-rickshaw Malak-Chalak Sanghatana Sanyukta Kriti Samiti, a joint action forum, to put forth the demands.
“We have asked chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to register cases against those who damage autorickshaws during the strike and recover the damages from Sharad Rao’s union,” said Thumpi Kurian, an auto union leader.
City BJP president Ashish Shelar and Swabhiman Sanghatana president Nitesh Rane also met Chavan at the Sahyadri guesthouse on Monday, to press for action against Rao for planning to hold citizens at ransom on the day of festival.
Shelar demanded that the Essential Services Act be invoked against the union led by Rao, while Rane said that the CM should book Rao for forcing vehicle owners to join the strike. “People feel that the government supports Rao because he is associated with the ruling Nationalist Congress Party. We want the CM to show his support for commuters,” said Shelar.
Chavan assured of adequate security to drivers willing to ply on roads. “The chief minister has said that he won’t allow people to take law in their hands,” said Kurian.
KK Tiwari, leader of Swabhiman Taxi-Rickshaw union, told that Chavan would look into their issue, including the Rs100 fine per day for delay in getting fitness certificates, issuance of temporary badges to drivers, among others.
According to sources, the coordination committee also met transport commissioner VN More at his Bandra office to discuss issues pertaining to the strike.
Shashank Rao, son of Sharad Rao and assistant general secretary of Mumbai Autorickshawmen’s Union, said that they will clarify their stand on the strike in a press conference on Tuesday. Sources in the BJP and Swabhiman Sanghatana said that they would not hesitate from teaching the Rao-led union a lesson if the government did not prevent the strike.