31-year-old Amrita Seth, working at an MNC bank was already getting late for office. A resident of Patparganj, her office was 21 km away in Bhikaji Kama Place, but hostile auto rickshaws wallahs compounded her worries. Most demanded much more than the normal meter rate and were abusive, others were unwilling to make a trip to the destination, while some cited the latest excuse in vogue nahi jayega madam, gas bharna hai (cannot go madam I have run out of CNG). Then why did they stop at all?
Such harassment faced day in and out by thousands of Delhiites could soon be a thing of the past if the joint effort by the Transport Department and Delhi Traffic police, who have announced a slew of measures to curb it and endorsed by the Delhi High Court on Wednesday bears fruit.
A Bench of Chief Justice AP Shah and Justice S Muralidhar have made it clear to the Government that the existing fine of Rs 100 on errant autowallahs have not proved to be an effective deterrent and favoured hiking it to at least a “rational” Rs 500.
Lawyer Jyoti Singh appearing for the Government said they are set to increase the fines and urged a direction to the centre to amend the Motor Vehicles Act to this effect. Importantly the government also said they have made good behaviour and adherence to rule a permit condition and a driver’s permit can be cancelled if complaints of misbehaviour or fleecing are received. The Bench was hearing a PIL filed by Harsh Agrawal seeking direction to ask the government to put in place a proper mechanism for solvingproblems allegedly arising out of the monopoly of auto drivers.
An affidavit filed in the court by DCP (Traffic) Prabhakar speaks about a crackdown on erring three-wheelers. “Officers of State Transport Authority have agreed to act jointly with the Delhi Traffic police against auto drivers, who refuse to carry passengers, misbehave with them and overcharge.
It said the joint checking by flying squads have already begun and will be intensified. It said the Delhi traffic police has started traffic helpline at telephone number 23010101 and SMS at 56767 and the capacity of the helpline has been augmented to five lines.