Mumbaikars have decided to lend their full support to the "Meter Jam" campaign launched by three advertising professionals and boycott autorickshaws and taxis Thursday to protest against the arbitrary fares being charged by their drivers.
Various groups of students from several colleges have supported the campaign, saying this is the only way to teach the drivers a lesson.
"We have decided to use other public transport and not take a taxi or an auto during our commute to college. One of my friends has decided to walk the distance from CST (Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) to our college in Churchgate," said Chirag Thakkar, a student of Jai Hind College in south Mumbai.
Advertising professionals Jaidev Rupani, Rachna Brar and Abhilash Krishnan launched the "Meter Jam" campaign last week. They spread the message through social networking sites and have got an overwhelming response from around 10,000 Mumbaikars.
Their website suggests people use car poolings and also provides information on various bus routes and alternative means of transport.
Some people have posted messages on networking sites, saying they are willing to share their cars with anyone on their office route.
"I will be travelling from Dadar to Panvel in Navi Mumbai and I pledge to give a lift to any member on the route," said Chirag Shah, who has posted the same message on Facebook.
Action for good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI), an NGO that works with government agencies for transparency and accountability in them, is also supporting the campaign and has appealed to Mumbaikars to extend their full support.
"One day's sacrifice will speak the only language that cab/auto drivers and their union leaders understand," said AGNI trustee Sharad Kumar.
Agreed social activist Sumera Abdul Ali. "Taxi and auto drivers have literally held the city to ransom many a times. It is time now that they know it works both ways. I am totally in support of the Meter Jam campaign," he said.
"I will also request people I know to walk for shorter distances. Buses can be used to reach destinations that are not walking distance," Ali added.
However, Mumbai Taximen's Union secretary A.L. Quadros is not happy about the campaign.
"Everyone has a right to protest in a democracy. I cannot challenge that. But their complaints about taxi drivers refusing short distance fares has to be looked into on a case to case basis," he said.
"The demand for taxis is much more than its supply and hence it is not always possible to ply on a passenger's demand. This should not be considered as outright refusal," Quadros added.