From Monday, flagging down an autorickshaw would be quite a task, as about 10,500 of these will not be allowed to ply on city roads.
These three-wheelers now have suspended permits after they failed to comply with the transport department's directive to convert their permits into smart cards.
Department officials said the final deadline for about 55,000 genuine permit-holders to convert the permits was October 25, which they missed.
They said the smart cards were issued only to those permit holders who appear before the department in person and furnish their valid permits, and proper address proof, document details of the drivers and the badge issued by the department to run autorickshaws.
According to the officials, last November, all autorickshaw permit holders in Delhi were asked to get their permits converted into smart card-based permits — which has biometric details of the permit holder and badge numbers of drivers authorised to run these — within a month. The conversion was a part of the government's initiative to maintain proper records of the three-wheelers.
The smart card permits also has space on the card chip for details of offences and challans issued against the auto drivers.
The initiative was a step by the department to rein in these three-wheelers, which are notorious for fleecing, overcharging, and refusing service.
After last year’s deadline was extended and then missed, transport department gave ultimatums to autorickshaw owners to convert the permits by October 25 this year, or get permits suspended. Yet, 10,491 permit holders failed to get their smart cards. Officials said permits of these were cancelled.
The suspension of erring permit holders, however, has not sat well with them. They threatened to boycott work if they were not given another chance.
"On Monday, we will meet the transport minister and transport commissioner, and place our demands for the extension of deadline. If they turn a deaf ear to our demands, all autos may go off roads," said Rajender Soni, general secretary of Delhi Auto Riskshaw Sangh.
Soni said more than 10,000 permit holders failed to apply for smart cards because of the department was short of officers concerned. He also claimed that officials made illegitimate demands of hefty amounts to turn permits into smart card.
Department officials denied the allegations. They said most permit holders did not apply for smart cards because they got the autorickshaw permits under false names.
To streamline the autorickshaws in the city, the Delhi traffic police, too, would initiate a drive against these three-wheelers plying in the city without permit.
"On Monday, we will discuss the matter with the transport department and make sure that autos plying without a valid smart card are prosecuted. We may issue challans of Rs 2000 and also send them to court," said Satyendra Garg, joint commissioner of police (traffic).