If you thought that from April 1, all auto-rickshaws in the city would come fitted with electronic metres, you are in for a rude shock. To dodge the mandatory electronic meter installation, auto-rickshaw owners are getting their vehicles’ annual fitness certification done prior to April 1.
A notification issued by the state transport department earlier this year stipulated that all auto-rickshaws should get e-meters fitted by April 1. Ones that do not comply will not be issued the annual fitness certificate. Plying a rickshaw without the fitness certificate can attract a penalty of Rs2,000.
To avoid installation of e-meter for another year, most auto-rickshaw owners have been rushing to get the annual fitness certificate issued. “Generally, we get 200 autos daily for annual fitness certificate. But over the past two weeks, we are getting between 500 and 700 rickshaws every day,” said Tanaji Chavan, assistant regional transport officer (RTO), Wadala. “However, we are allowing only those rickshaws whose fitness certificates have either expired or are valid for only a month.”
The Andheri RTO is experiencing a similar rush of old three-wheelers seeking the annual fitness certificate, “From April 1, electronic meters would be made compulsory for old rickshaws. Therefore, the number of old three-wheelers coming for fitness certificate has gone up from 250 to 500,” said DV Modak, Assistant RTO, Andheri.
Consumer activists urged the RTO not to issue fitness certificates in advance. “The RTO should refuse advance annual fitness certification as old auto owners are only opting for it to defeat the government notification and to continue using mechanical meters to fleece consumers,” said Shirish Deshpande, chairperson of the Mumbai Grahak Panchayat. “The notification has been issued in public interest so that the rigging of meters stops. If the annual fitness is issued now, auto drivers would be able to operate rickshaws with mechanical meters for another year.”