The indefinite autorickshaw strike from April 16 seems inevitable as talks between the Mumbai autorickshawmen’s union and the government ended without a resolution. However, to prevent inconvenience to citizens, the government has drawn up a contingency plan and has asked transport undertakings to ply more vehicles during the strike.
The Sharad Rao-led Mumbai autorickshawmen’s union met transport authorities, including transport secretary Shailesh Sharma and state transport commissioner VN More, at the Mantralaya on Thursday and discussed several demands during the 90-minute meeting. However, unhappy with no conclusion, the union stood firm on its strike decision.
“We met transport authorities with the hope of some conclusion, but as there was none we are firm on our decision to go on strike,” said Shashank Rao, assistant general secretary of Mumbai autorickshawmen’s union.
Chief secretary Ratnakar Gaikwad then called a meeting of transport officials from BEST, MSRTC, TMC, NMMT and other corporations. “Whether there is an auto strike or not, we want to keep a contingency plan ready,” said a senior transport official.
“We are going to ask our long and medium distance buses to stop wherever people flag them down within city limits and in surrounding areas. Also, we will ply 70 additional buses in the Mumbai Metropolitan region (MMR), of which 25 will be in Thane and 10 within Mumbai city,” said Deepak Kapoor, managing director, MSRTC.
“We have asked BEST to ply more buses in Mumbai during the strike period. For the rest of the state, we have asked MSRTC to run more services,” said Sharma. The state has also asked the police to take action against people who create law and order problems, Sharma said.
The unions are demanding 1.40lakh extra permits, an interim fare hike from Rs11 to Rs16 and a hike from Rs7 to Rs9 for every additional kilometre.
They also want an autorickshaw trade committee appointed to formulate a fare structure and also to include social security as one of the aspects while deciding the fare.