In a city that has often been termed as the “crime capital”, authorities have failed to regulate autorickshaw drivers as thousands continue to run their vehicles “unauthorisedly”.
According to sources, only one-third of about 1.25 lakh auto drivers have been issued smart card-based public service vehicle (PSV) badges that entitle them to run autorickshaws in the Capital. Moreover, most drivers do not even have the old paper-based PSV badges, an official said.
This means that the transport department does not have crucial information pertaining to a large number of drivers, such as local address, permanent address and driving licence details.
“It is an issue that directly relates to the safety of passengers. In case of any mishap with a passenger, it would be difficult for us to identify or locate the driver,” a senior transport department official said.
In November 2010, a DU student, who also worked in a BPO, was allegedly abducted and gang-raped in an auto-rickshaw by the driver and his friends near Pandav Nagar in east Delhi.
In 2009, a Somalian refugee was allegedly raped by an autorickshaw driver near Nizamuddin. In most cases, said officials, the culprits are never nabbed since their records were not available. Officials fear a repeat of such crimes if the details of autorickshaw drivers are not registered.
As per estimates, there are about 1.25 lakh drivers to run 55,000 autorickshaws in the Capital. While less than 20% of the autos are run by the owners themselves, most vehicles are rented out by the owners.
“Any person driving a public transport vehicle is issued a PSV badge. The smart card-based PSV badges would ensure that we have bio-metric details of each and every driver,” said a senior transport department official.
“Since the drivers will have to produce a valid driving license and pay a yearly fee to revalidate the badge, drivers are not coming forward,” a senior transport department official said.
The badges will also ensure that challans issued to autorickshaw drivers do not return undelivered. "We will combine the details of the driver with the details of the vehicle permit owners in our records. It would help the law enforcement agencies to trace an errant driver," the official said.
“We are planning to intensify the drive to issue PSV badges,” Delhi transport commissioner RK Verma said.