Moving around in Gurgaon can be very stressful if you do not have a private vehicle.
Try taking the Rapid Metro from your apartment and hire an auto lined up outside the Sikanderpur station to hop malls or restaurants. That’s one sure way to ruin your day.
The government can impose rules to encourage use of public transport and bring down carbon emission but the state of auto-rickshaws, a dominant category of public vehicles in the NCR, can shake the resolve of even the most environmentfriendly commuter.
Autos in Gurgaon are given a long leash by the traffic police and this has given an impetus to auto menace in the city. There is the auto mafia that run thousands of unregistered diesel-run three-wheelers ferrying lakhs of commuters with no formal tariff mechanism.
Auto mafias have marked territories with their own union leaders. Any auto breaching such perimeters is charged at least `100 as fine. Recently, auto driver Dharambeer Singh, a resident of village Seikhopur, went to drop a passenger to MG Road Metro station and was standing in a queue for return passenger when the other auto group asked him to pay `100 for ‘trespassing’.
When he refused, the group of auto drivers assaulted Singh.
Kuldeep Singh, a union leader told HT, “We fine Rs 100 and warn the driver if he enters into another’s jurisdiction. The area is divided to overcome the confusion and equal distribution of earnings among the auto drivers”. There are also incidences of auto drivers threatening, robbing and molesting passengers. Most women feel insecure when hopping into an auto. However, most of them do not have an option but to take the risk. Shared autos look like safer options as there are many travelling together.
But they are packed like sardines in moving tins. Even here, areas are divided to ferry commuters no matter how inconvenient it is for the people. One has to change three autos in a stretch of five kilometres on an average. In that chaos, many drivers and even passengers find the opportunity to molest women and get away with it. A 26-yearold finance manager of a private company was molested by an auto driver near Huda Metro station in March this year but she did not report the incident to police. She could explain how the driver molested her in the presence of fellow passengers.
Surprisingly, even auto drivers are not safe in the city. Ram Kumar, an auto-rickshaw driver told HT, “It is even difficult task for drivers who are nonresidents of the city. Villagers often assault us and rob us of our hard-earned money. I was assaulted last week when I took a passenger to Sushant Lok from Huda Metro station. They also damaged my auto.”
The commuters have often felt helpless as many complain to the police go unheard. Along with strict rules, the police also needs to be sensitized in dealing with daily passengers and autowallas. Moreover, because of this apathy, commuters at times even find pre-paid rates unreasonable.
For a distance of 2 kms the minimum pre-paid amount is `40. The autos that refuse to stand in queue offer to drop the passengers for Rs 30, which they are most happy to pay.