Only two out of every 10 autorickshaw drivers who appeared for the Marathi language test — now mandatory to get a permit — were Maharashtrians or Marathi-speaking applicants.
According to sources, the transport department has conducted an internal survey that found six out of every 10 applicants were non-Maharashtrians. These figures show a few Maharashtrians are interested in getting autorickshaw permits in Mumbai, even as Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray accused the government of not giving the same opportunities to them.
The Regional Transport Offices (RTO) of Mumbai classified the applicants seeking the Marathi test into four categories on the basis of their names and surnames — Maharashtrians, non-Maharashtrians, Muslims and Christians. Officials said there was no official order issued, but the survey was conducted to counter the allegations against the government, said sources.
Transport commissioner Shyam Vardhane denied collection of any such data, but official sources told HT his office has already submitted the report about it to the state government.
In Mumbai, of the 18,418 auto drivers who appeared for the test conducted between February 27 and March 7 at RTOs in Andheri, Borivli and Wadala, only 3,597 were Maharashtrians, while the rest (11,431) with non-Maharashtrians.
“Note that in technical terms, all applicants are residents of Maharashtra as one of the conditions to apply is that they should be living in the state for at least 15 years,” said an official.
The internal report was submitted by RTOs to the transport commissioner at the beginning of this week. It was done on the directives of transport minister Diwakar Raote.
Around 2,610 (14%) auto drivers who appeared for the test were Muslims and 76 (0.41%) were Christians. Some officials said the data prepared by their offices may not be perfect because there was confusion about some surnames like Yadav and Chaudhari, which are common in Maharashtra and north India.