The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) has recommended lifting of a 12-year-old Supreme Court order that froze grant of fresh permits to auto-rickshaws.
The EPCA has given the advice in wake of rampant abuse of the ban by “financier mafia” that has led to auto-rickshaw drivers overcharging customers.
In its 34th report before the special forest bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, the EPCA claimed the ban had pushed the public transport system into the hands of “financier mafia”.
According to SC’s September 16, 1997, order only 55,000 autos were allowed to ply on Delhi roads. A ban was imposed on a new vehicle.
The court permitted introduction of a new auto-rickshaws as replacements only. The permit passed from the old vehicle to the new one.
The EPCA said the ban led to a vicious cycle in which the original permit holders sold them to financiers and middlemen. The financiers are in turn charging Rs 4.5 lakh for each auto, when the showroom price is Rs 1.25 lakh.
The report elaborates that the owner rents out the auto a high price to the driver, who overcharges customers.
The EPCA said removal of the ban would eliminate the dominance of financier mafia who are exploiting drivers and the public.
The report also mentions how traffic congestion eats into the daily bread of drivers, who lose their chance to drive the vehicle the next day if they do not earn a substantial daily amount.