Even as the state transport authority postponed its meeting on Thursday to discuss the revision of auto and taxi fares, auto unions have threatened to go on an indefinite strike from April 16.
The Sharad Rao-led Mumbai Autorickshawmen’s Union, which has the most number of members among all unions in the city, has demanded a fare revision on the basis of the cost-of-living index, and an interim hike of the minimum fare from Rs 11 to Rs 16 and Rs 7 to Rs 9 for every additional km.
Its members will go on an indefinite stir if the state does not accept these demands, Rao said.
“We are informing the commuters well in advance about the strike. From April 15 midnight onwards, not a single auto will ply.”
“Our primary demand is that the state should allow the Autorickshaw Trade Enquiry Committee to complete its work and prepare a fare revision formula that includes the cost-of-living index. The hike should be fixed on the basis of this formula, not on the basis of CNG rates,” Rao said.
“In the meanwhile, we will be happy with an interim fare hike.”
The union leader said the hike should help match the fare in Delhi (Rs 19) and Bangalore (Rs 17).
“We want the hike on the lines of these two cities. In Mumbai, the cost of living is not cheaper than that in the two cities,” he said.
Not all auto unions support this strike, but that’s no good news for commuters. Thampy Kurian, general secretary of the Mumbai Rickshawmen Union, said: “We don’t support the April 16 strike. We have submitted a proposal that the hike should consider the increased vehicle maintenance after conversion from petrol to CNG and the hiked CNG rates. If we have to call a strike, we will not wait till April 16.”
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Transport Authority (MMRTA), which postponed the fare revision meeting on Thursday, has offered no reasons for its action. Sources said the meeting was postponed after the transport secretary and transport commissioner went to Delhi on Wednesday.
This is the second time the MMRTA has postponed the meeting. The earlier one on February 24 was also cancelled without explanation.
“The next date of the meeting has not been fixed,” said a transport official, requesting anonymity.