Irked by the autorickshaw and taxi unions’ threat to go on strike on September 13, commuter organisations are now demanding that the state government invoke the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA).
The Mumbai Grahak Panchayat (MGP) has written to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan asking him to invoke the act against the unions for threatening to disturb essential services under the pretext of a protest. “We request you not to buckle under pressure of unions that are threatening to protest if the Hakim committee recommendations are not accepted,” said Shirish Deshpande, MGP chief.
The consumer group has opposed the Rs3 hike in taxi and auto fares recommended by the committee. In a meeting with transport secretary Shailesh Sharma last week, the committee said the hike should be postponed till all mechanical meters were converted to digital ones.
They have submitted calculations to show how taxi and auto fares for 1km should be Rs11.15 and Rs8.43 respectively, not Rs13.08 and Rs10 as recommended by the committee.
The taxi and auto union leaders are scheduled to meet Sharma on Monday.
“Taxi drivers are already suffering a daily loss of Rs250-300. If the government delays the decision further, taxi drivers will also join the September 13 protest,” said AL Quadros, Mumbai Taximen's union leader.
Sharad Rao-led Mumbai Autorickshawmen’s Union (MAU) has already announced that autos across the city will go off roads on Thursday.
Thampi Kurien, leader of Mumbai Rickshawmen's Union, said, “We are waiting to see how Monday’s meeting goes.”