For now, there will be no hike in the fares of autorickshaws in Delhi. In a major shift from their strategy, auto unions are now strongly opposed to a hike and have also rejected the Delhi government’s proposal to initiate any such process.
Until May this year, autorickshaw drivers were demanding that the government revised the fares due to rising costs of spare parts, insurance and CNG. But facing stiff competition from cab aggregators, they want to focus on the ouster of these companies from the capital.
“It will be our loss if auto fares are increased under the existing circumstance. We demand that cab aggregators should be banned as they are flouting all norms,” said Rajendra Soni, general secretary of Delhi Autorickshaw Sangh and Delhi Pradesh Taxi Union.
“Firstly, they are charging more than the government-approved rates and surge pricing has also not ceased. Secondly, almost all cars that are plying under them are not registered under the respective company’s name,” he said.
Autorickshaw drivers had majorly contributed to Aam Aadmi Party’s victory in the Assembly elections last year. Addressing a mega rally of autorickshaw drivers in May last year, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced that their fares would be revised on April 1 every year. He had also constituted a four-member fare-fixation committee which was supposed to come up with a formula that will be used every year to revise fares automatically.
However, the All Delhi Auto-Taxi Transport Congress Union also said that such a hike was unlikely. But the union is planning a protest against cab aggregators sometime around Diwali. “A protest is planned and we are also in talks with Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee chief Ajay Maken for moving court against these cab aggregators. But, we do not want any fare revision in auto-rickshaws or our economy taxis,” said Kishan Verma, president of ADATTCU.
He added that after the three-day strike of autorickshaw drivers in July, the government had also offered to revise auto fares, but unions unanimously refused the proposal. Last revised in 2013, the base fare for autos is Rs 25 for the first two kilometers and Rs 8 for every subsequent kilometer.
Government officials confirmed the development. “Fares are not going to be increased any time soon as the unions themselves do not want it. About their concern of cab aggregators eating up their earnings, the issue is being dealt by the special committee, which has been constituted under the directions of the Delhi High Court,” an official said. The committee set up by the Centre includes one senior official each from the Ministry of Information Technology, Central Pollution Control Board and Delhi Traffic Police apart from obtaining advise of a transport expert from Niti Aayog. It is examining all issues related to existing permits given to taxis and cab aggregators.