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HindustanTimes Thu,24 Apr 2014

Autos may continue to play truant as financier-auto mafia nexus flourishes

Atul Mathur, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, November 05, 2012
First Published: 23:33 IST(5/11/2012) | Last Updated: 23:35 IST(5/11/2012)

If auto-rickshaws in Delhi continue to overcharge you or take you to your destination via a longer route despite being tracked through the global positioning system (GPS) device, then blame it on the dealer-financier mafia nexus that the transport department has failed to break.

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Despite the transport department's decision to issue new auto-rickshaw permits only to needy individuals following the 'one-person-one-permit policy' to break the control of financiers, the auto mafia, along with the financiers, continue to control the business.

Auto-rickshaw unions claim the people who wish to buy auto-rickshaw are forced to buy new vehicles through financiers at a premium.

Those who approach the auto-rickshaw dealers directly for a vehicle are told there is a waiting of 10-12 weeks.

"The auto-rickshaw dealers tell us that there is a waiting period of three months to get a new vehicle but if you go through a financier the vehicle is delivered within a day," alleged Rajendra Soni, president, Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh.

While the on-road price of an auto-rickshaw is R1.68 lakh, auto-rickshaw unions said financiers sell the vehicles for Rs. 2.80 lakh.

The Supreme Court had allowed the transport department to give out 45,000 new permits to increase the number of auto-rickshaws in Delhi from 55,000 to 1 lakh.

Transport department officials said increased competition on road due to more vehicles would not let the auto-rickshaw drivers refuse passengers or overcharge.

"But if we will have to pay more than Rs. 1 lakh as premium to buy a new auto-rickshaw, we will have no choice but to recover the money fast by overcharging passengers," said Deepak Singhal, who is looking to buy a new auto-rickshaw.

Delhi transport minister Ramakant Goswami said new auto-rickshaws are readily available with the dealers and admitted there were some dealers and financiers who were indeed "troubling the buyers".

"My office has got complaints that there is a nexus between the dealers and financiers. I have told the dealers that their trade certificate would be cancelled if those complaints are found to be true. I have called a meeting of officials to discuss the issue on Tuesday," said Goswami.

Phone calls and text messages sent to Bajaj and TVS companies to get their reaction remained unanswered.

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