Autorickshaws will not go off the roads on June 15, but on June 28. The autorickshaw union representatives pushed ahead the date after State Transport Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil on Wednesday promised to discuss the minimum fare hike issue on June 22.
“We have promised to have a dialogue with them… and requested them to wait until June 22,” said Vikhe Patil, after the meeting with autorickshaw union representatives, including Sharad Rao, at Mantralaya.
The state government has formed a committee, comprising auto union and government representatives, that will meet on June 22 to decide on the auto and taxi fare hikes. “The committee will take the final decision after deliberations and understanding what the CNG rates will be,” said Vikhe Patil.
“We have postponed our strike date to June 28. That will happen if we are not satisfied with the government deliberations on June 22,” said Rao, adding that the issue of phasing out autorickshaws as a mode of transport for schoolchildren will also be discussed.
The Central government’s decision to increase fuel price will directly impact the prices of Piped Natural Gas (PNG) and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) in Maharashtra. The Mahanagar Gas Ltd - Mumbai’s sole supplier of CNG and PNG — is expected to take a decision on the price hike by the end of this week.
Most of the public transport in the city — including the BEST buses, more than 55,000 taxis and 1.5 lakh autorickshaws — run on CNG.
Anticipating the CNG price hike, autorickshaw unions had demanded an increase in the minimum fare from Rs 9 to Rs 15 — considering there has been no tariff hike since seven years. Taxi unions too had demanded an increase of Rs 2 on the minimum fare — from Rs 14 to Rs 16 — and another Rs 2-hike for every kilometer travelled - from Rs 9 to Rs 11. “What we are asking for is not unreasonable since we have huge costs involved in maintaining and the overhaul of vehicles,” said A.L. Quadros, leader of the Mumbai Taximen’s Union.
The state government is considering their demands.