In a major relief for the capital's autorickshaw drivers, the Delhi government on Monday, extended by 45 days the deadline for them to apply for smart card-based permits, an official said.
"There are around 7,000 auto drivers who have to get smart cards. We will be issuing notice to all of them by Tuesday and they can start applying the day after," Delhi Transport Commissioner R.K. Verma said.
The government in November last year had asked the autorickshaw drivers to apply for smart card-based permits in order to keep a record of the number of three-wheelers in the city.
However, problems arose when many auto drivers claimed they had bought their vehicles from people who no longer resided in the city. In such cases, the government refused to issue them smart cards as the vehicle was registered in some one else's name.
"The autorickshaw drivers can bring their purchase letter and apply for the smart cards. Those who do not apply would be fake and we are expecting this figure to be around one or two thousand," Verma added.
Meanwhile, the auto drivers union has expressed relief at the development.
"If we went on strike it would have caused trouble to people as well as us. It is satisfying that the government has acknowledged our demand and we are very happy with this decision… We will start applying for the permit soon," said Suresh Sharma, president of the Rashtravadi Janta Tipahiya Chalak Mahasangh.
The auto unions had threatened a strike if the government removed the autorickshaws from the city roads. At about 55,000, the autorickshaws make for a major chunk of public transport system in the capital.