Barely hours after Mahanagar Gas Limited (MGL) announced the hike in prices of both piped natural gas (PNG) and compressed natural gas (CNG), all rickshaw and taxi unions and the BEST running buses in Mumbai jumped onto the hike bandwagon.
The Rs2 hike per kg in the price of CNG in Mumbai is all set to hit rate cards of autorickshaw and taxi drivers which will make commuting costlier.
There are around 3 lakh vehicles in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) including 42,000 taxis and about 1.5 lakh autorickshaws which run on CNG. Additionally, 2,300 buses of the 4,200 buses in the BEST fleet are CNG.
“The hike will put an estimated burden of Rs14 crore annually on the undertaking,” said AS Tamboli, spokesperson of BEST. The decision will be taken by the Sena-BJP ruled BEST committee soon. However, the price hike in rickshaw and taxi fares may happen sooner.
“With the CNG price hike from July 1, taxi drivers’ daily cost will go up by Rs25 to 30,” said AL Quadros, leader of Mumbai Taximen’s Union. “Apart from the fuel hike, living costs, insurance premiums, cost and maintenance of vehicles has already gone up.
Therefore, we are going to demand a fare hike as per the Hakim panel formula.” The panel had recommended that the fare hike take place annually in the
month of May and only if the fare hike, as per a standardised formula, works out more than 50 paise a kilometre.
“The state should not waste time and immediately declare a fare hike for autorickshaws as auto drivers won’t get any arrears after the fare hike” said Shashank Rao, leader of Mumbai Autorickshawmen’s Union (MAU).
Rao said that last April 15, they had already made a representation for a Re1 fare hike to the transport department for a fare hike from May 1, 2012, but the state government has not yet relented. Consumer activists feel that the government must consider the demand within the framework of the Hakim panel’s demand.
“Panel has suggested giving a fare hike only if fuel price hike reflects more than 50 paise and the government should stick to it,” said activist AV Shenoy.