The government's decision to make electronic meters compulsory for new auto-rickshaws from March 1 has put rickshaw owners in a spot. Either that, or they are stonewalling the government's push for e-meters. For, not a single new auto-rickshaw has been registered with the RTO since March 1.
After the state government's directive came into effect at the start of the month, Regional Traffic Offices in Mumbai stopped registering new auto-rickshaws that did not have electronic meters. New rickshaws that were brought to the various RTOs had mechanical meters, leaving transport authorities with no option but to refuse registration. “Not a single new auto has been registered since March 1,” confirmed Tanaji Chavan, assistant RTO at Wadala. Usually, RTOs at Andheri and Wadala register at least 10 new rickshaws daily.
Sources said rickshaw owners have nearly stopped bringing their vehicles for registration hoping that the directive on e-meters will be withdrawn. A petition challenging the diktat has been filed by the Mumbai Autorickshawmen's Union and is expected to come up before the high court on March 14.
Sharad Rao, president of the Mumbai Autorickshawmen's Union said, “This indicates that no rickshaw driver wants the e-meter. In our PIL, we have demanded that the state prove that e-meters cannot be tampered at all.”
Officials claim autorickshaw men have been trying to avoid installing electronic meters as they cannot be tampered easily and show an error message if any such attempt is made. “It is easy to tamper mechanical meters, and charge passengers 20 to 30% excess fare. But once e-meters are installed, rickshaw drivers won't be able to fleece commuters easily,” Chavan said.