The state transport department has decided to phase out the use of autorickshaws for transporting school students in the next three years.
State transport minister, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, will meet autorickshaw unions from Mumbai and Pune on March 9, 2010 to discuss this move.
“This will not be applicable as a blanket rule for all rickshaws plying in the state. It will be specific to rickshaws used for transporting school students,” he said talking to Hindustan Times.
The plan forms a part of the State School Bus policy which was given a go ahead a week ago. The policy lays down uniform rules for running of school buses ensuring a safe travel for students.
“We have initiated this plan considering that rickshaws carrying students pose a huge safety threat. There are at least 10 students in a rickshaw at any given point, which is dangerous. And while we insist that buses should be phased out after a certain span, we want to fix the limit on rickshaws older than seven years,” said Vikhe-Patil.
The state government plans to request the unions for cooperating on this proposal.
“We will not give any financial incentives as such but we will waive off the money they will need for changing their permits. Also, we are encouraging them to shift to vehicles like matadors, OMNI’s and vans,” he said.
After discussions with the unions and evaluating the number of rickshaws plying for school transportation across the state, the government will lay down a phase-wise plan spread over three years.
“The Transport department should understand that more number of accidents involve 4-wheelers than 3-wheelers, especially while carrying school children. So I think it is not a healthy decision. Pollution too is not an issue as most of them run on CNG,” said Sharad Rao, President, Mumbai Taxi and Auto Union.