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Auto-cracy drives commuters crazy

india Updated: Jun 04, 2013 01:58 IST

Unruly auto drivers in the city are having a field day thanks to the lack of any checks or regulations. Commuters are left at the mercy of drivers who harass, misbehave and fleece commuters and charge fares at their whims.

The rise of the ‘auto mafia’ and increasing incidents of crime such as theft, loot, abduction and assault by drivers is another cause of worry. Despite repeated complaints, authorities have failed to rein in autos that ply without meters or fixed rates.

But there may be some relief in store. Haryana transport commissioner Sumita Mishra on Monday marked a query to the regional transport authority (RTA) in Gurgaon, asking if meters had been installed in autos.

In the wake of increasing complaints about drivers overcharging, the commissioner responded to a request from the RTA here to fix fares and install meters on autos.

RTA officials said fares were expected to be fixed within a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, a committee comprising the city magistrate, RTA secretary, DCP (headquarters) and joint commissioner of the municipal corporation has been formed to fix the fares which will be decided on the lines of Delhi.

Gurgaon’s public transport system comprises mainly auto-rickshaws and private cabs, which have turned into a necessary evil.

“Lack of public transport is not to blame entirely for the rise in number of autos. This is a city marked by the spirit of individualism where people do not want to use public transport like buses,” said Dalbir Singh, RTA secretary, Gurgaon.

The growing clout of the auto mafia has led to monopoly. For example, the unauthorised auto stand near the Huda City Centre Metro station is dominated by locals from Jharsa village.

“If an auto driver from any other stand picks up a passenger from here, he will be beaten up. He is allowed to only drop the passenger to the Metro station,” said Ravinder Singh, who heads the auto stand.

Outside the Park Centra building, drivers from the Silokhra village rule. MG Road, a shoppers’ paradise in Gurgaon thronged by thousands daily, is dominated by local bigwigs. Youths from Sikandarpur and Chakkarpur villages call the shots here.

In Sector 56, the auto stand in the vicinity of Kendriya Vihar is just a stone’s throw from the police station. Here, the fares are fixed arbitrarily with no possibility of negotiation.

The auto stand near the Medanta Medicity is the joint ‘fiefdom’ of men from Jharsa and Silokhra villages.

An official at the RTA said, “Autorickshaw drivers mainly come from villages and are unemployed. When we challan them for offences like driving without a licence or permit, they say they are poor and have nothing else to do.”

Auto drivers have their own share of woes as they allege harassment by police. “The policemen take undue favours. We are forced to drop them at desired destinations, but they don’t pay us a single penny. If we don’t, they penalise us for no fault,” said auto driver Upender Singh.

ACP (traffic) Ravinder Tomar said, “We are trying to enforce discipline among drivers and sometimes have to take harsh measures.”

Read: What police and transport authorities should do