By the end of this month, you will know whether you need to make alternative plans to commute in the suburbs starting November 9 - from when auto drivers have threatened to go on indefinite strike.
On October 29, union leaders will meet the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Transport Authority (MMRTA) officials to discuss new fare structures for autos. If both sides don't come to an agreement, Mumbaiites will be the ones to suffer - for the third time in less than two months.
Auto drivers are unhappy with the state government's 50 paise fare hike that came into effect on October 17. Sharad Rao, general secretary of the Mumbai Auto Rickshawmen's Union, the biggest auto union in the city, was to meet transport commissioner VN More on October 14 to discuss the issue. However, the meeting was postponed as More was unavailable. Rao met More briefly on October 21 and their official meeting was rescheduled to October 29.
The union wants auto fares to be revised on the basis of a formula suggested by Patankar Committee in 1993 and wants the formula to take into account factors such as inflation and vehicle maintenance.
"It has become difficult for drivers to survive. We will put forth our grievances as all decisions concerning auto drivers are taken by the government. If they do not listen to us, then we will have to agitate," said Rao, whose union has fixed November 9 as the deadline to discuss the issues.
On the meeting agenda are also other issues such as forming a welfare board for auto drivers and introduction of pre-paid autos. Other auto unions have decided not to support the November agitation, but Rao said he is confident that auto drivers will back him.