It’s just two months since auto fares were hiked, but autorickshaw drivers are now demanding that the minimum fare be raised to Rs 17-19 and that fares be revised annually. Auto unions have decided to go off the roads on October 6 if the state transport department fails to meet their demand.
Sharad Rao, president of Mumbai Automen’s Union, said the current fare structure is based on cost-of-living parameters fixed 20 years ago.
“With the recent hike in CNG rates, it is becoming difficult for auto drivers to earn a living,” he said.
Rao said the Maharashtra government should follow the Delhi model for arriving at a new fare structure.
"In Delhi, the state government went into the economics after calculating the expense and income of auto drivers. We want the state to follow the Delhi model,” he said. "We want the transport department to prepare a new formula or make changes in the present formula so that every January there is a gradual hike at par with the cost of living.”
Rao, however, was unwilling to take responsibility for auto drivers who refuse to ply anywhere other than their preferred routes. He said commuter complaints are rising because there are many illegal autos on the streets. "The scrapped autos are back in the market. It is the authorities’ responsibility to seize them,” he said.
Auto drivers are also demanding that they be declared as public servants, have social welfare committees and get facilities such as provident fund and pension.