A Kandivli-based citizens' group has appealed to commuters to not travel by autos and taxis on October 31 as a protest against the steep tariff hike.
Acharya Atre Katta, a citizens' group, in association with Mumbai Grahak Panchayat (MGP), has asked commuters to use buses or walk short distances on October 31, which falls on a Wednesday.
"Through this boycott, we extend our support to the petition filed by MGP - its hearing is on the same day. This fare hike has affected all of us badly. While individually we are not able to voice our protest, we can prove our strength and unity collectively to taxi and auto unions and the government, who all take us for granted," said Rajesh Gade, chief organiser of Acharya Atre Katta.
To facilitate commute for Mumbaiites, the MGP said it would request the BEST to ply more services on October 31. "We will also appeal to private car owners, private and school buses to operate additional services. We request people to walk short distances," said Shirish Deshpande, chairperson of MGP.
DA Salian, secretary of Mumbai Taxi Association, said: "Whether they should hail a taxi or not is the commuters' decision. We will charge them the tariff approved by the government."
Shashank Rao, assistant general secretary of Mumbai Autorickshawmen's Union, is confident that the protest call will fail. "Mumbaiites need autos and they will use it. Such attempts have been made in the past too, but have proved unsuccessful," he said.
The MGP on Monday boycotted the first meeting of a nine-member committee appointed by the government to oversee problems coming in the way of meter recalibration and tariff card distribution and display. Representatives of the taxi and auto unions also attended the meeting. "We oppose the fare hike, which has been granted in undue haste. We had predicted these problems and asked the government not to go ahead with the hike. Now, when they face problems, they want our help, but we will not help," said Varsha Raut, member of MGP.
Transport commissioner VN More said: "The meeting was to discuss the problems faced by commuters and drivers while implementing the hike, so the consumer body was invited."
Transport authorities have issued tariff cards in Marathi too as per the MGP's request. "If there is a delay in distributing tariff cards, there's a huge hue and cry, but for five days, MGP has not bothered to give any response regarding the Marathi tariff cards we sent to them," More said.