Taking the first step to rein in auto-rickshaws — infamous for fleecing, overcharging and refusing to go — the transport department has started converting their permits into smart cards.
The smart cards are being issued to only genuine permit holders who physically appear before the department.
They will also have to furnish details like a valid permit, address proof of the permit holder, details of the drivers and the badge issued by the transport department to run auto-rickshaws.
According to senior transport department officials, one of the reasons why auto drivers fleece passengers is the increasing grip of the financier mafia.
Auto financiers own majority of three-wheelers under benaami (other people’s) names and rent them out to poor drivers who overcharge to make their ends meet.
In the first two days, only 110 auto-rickshaws owners applied for conversion of permits into smart cards.
The transport department has prepared a schedule for 55,000 auto-rickshaws and is summoning 500 auto-rickshaws everyday.
There are about 55,000 three-wheelers in Delhi.
“Though there could be some auto owners who could not come due to genuine reasons, most of them abstained because they have bought permits under benaami names,” said a source in the transport department.
Sources said a few people owned hundreds of auto permits in other people’s names.
They either managed to get permits in the names of relatives and servants, or bought permits, or transferred them illegally from original holders.
“While the cost of a three-wheeler is Rs 1.5 lakh, it is sold in black market for Rs four lakh with valid permits. We have to dismantle the financier mafia,” said an official.
Apart from permit details, smart cards will also include biometrics of the permit holder, names and badge number of six drivers who would be authorised to run the autos.
Details and offences and challans issued to the auto drivers will be recorded in the chip.
“The process will be complete by February 2010. After that, we will suspend permits of people who do not report for conversion into smart cards,” a transport department official said.