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Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Friday promised an annual fare revision as well as training on how to behave with commuters to the tens of thousands of auto drivers, considered his vote bank, at a mass meeting on the outskirts of the capital.
Addressing a mahasabha of thousands of auto drivers as well as of party supporters at Burari in north Delhi, Kejriwal said: "Every year on April 1 we will revise auto fares. If inflation increases, auto fares would then be hiked. If inflation declines, auto fares would be reduced by the government."
He said following complaints of Delhi Traffic Police "misusing powers" for suspending the permits of autos, the Delhi government has decided to "limit the power to suspend" and police can now deal with only those autos driving without a valid permit, or drivers without licence.
"We have got to know that traffic police seize autos in case the driver is not in proper uniform and other minor violations. But now the traffic police will be able to seize only those autos which don't have license, fitness certificate and permit," he said.
Referring to complaints of auto drivers refusing to take passengers or misbehaving with them, Kejriwal requested the auto drivers not to refuse to take passengers.
"If an auto driver is going to his house after work at night, then I request him to place a plate of 'No Service' in front of the vehicle," he said, adding that such auto drivers don't deserve a fine for refusing passengers.
On complaints of misbehaviour, the chief minister said his government has decided to train auto drivers.
"We have now decided to train auto drivers in which they would be taught how to behave with passengers and foreign passengers. Transport department will soon begin giving such training to auto drivers," Kejriwal said.
He said as per rules, auto drivers have to install meters and GPS in their vehicles.
Delhi has almost 80,000 autorickshaws plying its roads.
The chief minister also said the government would approach the court to ensure that autos from Delhi can ply in the National Capital Region. At present autos from Delhi cannot serve in areas of Noida and Ghaziabad unless they get a permit from the relevant state governments.
He also proposed to launch a helpline in a week where both auto drivers and customers can call.
In a dispute, there will be an effort to reach consensus between both the parties.
"If it cannot be resolved, a complaint would be registered," he said.
Towards the end of his speech, the chief minister was confronted with a section of angry auto drivers who complained that the chief minister did not listen to them "but just gave a speech and went away".
When they protested, Delhi Transport Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj intervened, and said that the representatives of the auto unions were sharing the stage with the chief minister and they had presented the Delhi government with a list of demands.