On Friday, commuters wouldn’t find it a problem to flag down autorickshaws. Autorickshaw unions have decided not to continue the strike but have threatened to go on another strike soon if their demands are not met.
Representatives of the autorickshaw drivers unions, however, said it was just a token strike. “The strike will end on Thursday. If the government does not listen to our demands we will hold a demonstration on April 12 and might go strike again,” said Rajendra Soni, general secretary, Delhi Auto Rickshaw Drivers Sangh.
Autorickshaw drivers are up in arms against Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit’s recent comments in the assembly that the autorickshaws will be phased out. The strike was also a means to demand a hike in autorickshaw fare. Some auto unions are also demanding an increase in the base fare of autorickshaws from Rs 10 to Rs 15 even if overall fare is not hiked.
Virendra Pal Gupta, president, Bharatiya Janta Tipahiya Chalak Sangh, demanded that the chief minister take back her statements regarding the phasing out of autos in Delhi. Dikshit had said in the Delhi Assembly that autorickshaws will be phased out and replaced with more environment-friendly battery-operated vehicles.
However, not all autorickshaw unions had struck work. Sobhran Singh Rajput, president of the Bharatiya Tipahiya Chalak Sangh, opposed the strike. “The government had agreed to our demands yesterday. There was no need to harass the public. Our autos were plying as usual,” he said.
Delhi Transport Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely couldn’t be contacted despite repeated attempts. Transport Commissioner R.K. Verma was not available for comments either.
“The government hiked DTC fare, the Metro fare and even that of feeder buses. But not the autos. If our fare is not increased immediately, most autorickshaw drivers would soon be on roads,” said Ajeet Kumar Sinha, an autorickshaw driver.