While autorickshaw drivers have threatened to go on an indefinite strike from April 16, suburban commuters will face inconvenience even on April 10.
The Mumbai Autorickshaw Men’s Union has organised a rally at the transport commissioner’s office in Bandra to demand new permits for auto drivers who have badges and to re-issue the 18,000 dead permits.
The transport authorities give badges to drivers who are permitted to drive an auto, while a permit is given to a three-wheeler owner to use his vehicle to ferry passengers.
“Only badge holders will participate in this rally as we want the transport department to give them new permits,” said Sharad Rao, president of the union, adding, “Drivers participating in the protest will stay off roads till the matter is discussed with the commissioner.”
On Wednesday, autorickshaw unions from across the state assembled at the Rashtriya Mill Mazadoor Sangh office in Parel to discuss the indefinite strike from April 16 seeking a fare hike, withdrawal of electronic meters and environment tax.
The unions are demanding a hike from minimum fare of Rs11 to Rs16 and Rs7 to 9 per additional kilometre. In addition, they are demanding a hike on par with the fare in Delhi (Rs19) and Bangalore (Rs17)
“The living standard in Mumbai is not cheaper than Bangalore and Delhi. We don’t want hike on basis of CNG rates, but on the cost of living. It should be based on the Patankar Committee report,” said Rao
Transport commissioner VN More said, “We have not received any information of the rally or strike. The only letter the transport office has received is on the interim fare hike.”
He added, “It’s not possible to take action every time auto driver refuses to ply as they use different tactics to escape punishment.”
According to activists, the move is another way to harass public. “This is an opportunity for BEST, ALMs and transport authorities to check the traffic situation and provide an alterative mode of public transport such as round route services,” said Sunil Mone, an activist.