Same distance, Rs. 40 difference in fare | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Same distance, Rs. 40 difference in fare

With complaints of autorickshaw drivers fleecing commuters by rigging meters and using fake tariff cards pouring in, two Hindustan Times reporters decided to verify the claims.

mumbai Updated: Jul 06, 2012 01:58 IST
Puja Changoiwala

With complaints of autorickshaw drivers fleecing commuters by rigging meters and using fake tariff cards pouring in, two Hindustan Times reporters decided to verify the claims.

To carry out the investigation our reporters needed the cooperation of the traffic police officials and the Regional Transport Office (RTO) - the two authorities responsible for bringing to book rogue auto drivers.

The reporters took senior inspector Vinayak Mule of the Goregaon traffic police (near the Aarey Colony signal) into confidence. He extended his full support and directed two constables, Tulshiram Patil and Gautam Bade, to wait at the pre-determined spot - the traffic police outpost at Goregaon (East). Here's the first person account.

Reporters: Puja Changoiwala and Farhan Shaikh
Location: Dahisar checknaka
Destination: Aarey Colony signal, Goregaon (East)
Date: June 3; Time: 3pm
On a rainy Tuesday, Farhan and I met at the Dahisar checknaka at 2.45pm. Fifteen minutes later, we both took separate autorickshaws for Goregaon (East).

While Farhan boarded a rickshaw (MH 02 QA 7544) from the authorised auto stand, I decided to travel in an auto (MH 02 TA 8509) that was parked 100m away from the stand, right behind a police chowkie.

Both Farhan and I embarked on our journey at the same time, facing the same vehicular traffic on the Western Express Highway.

After a 20-minute ride, I reached the Aarey Colony signal, a distance of about 9km for our starting destination. Farhan reached a few minutes later.

Different fares
After reaching the traffic outpost located below the Goregaon flyover, Farhan and I compared the fares of both autorickshaws.

The meter reading in Farhan's auto was 6.30, for which he paid Rs. 83 (Rs. 86 as per the fare card for same meter reading). However, the meter in my auto showed a reading of 8.40, and the driver charged me Rs. 123 (Rs. 115.50 as per the fare card for same meter reading).

The difference was evident. I had paid Rs. 40 more than my colleague. We summoned traffic constables Patil and Bade, who were already waiting for us. Senior inspector Mule was then approached, who personally inspected the auto.

Rigged meter
The 44-year-old owner and driver of my rickshaw (MH 02TA 8509), Kalicharan Dwarkadas Gupta, admitted to the police that his meter was rigged. Gupta, a native of Uttar Pradesh, said he has been driving rickshaws since he came to the city in 1984. He lives in the Pushpa Park area of Malad (East).

Action taken
The traffic police immediately impounded Gupta's vehicle and his licence, which were submitted to the Andheri RTO.

The other driver, Kishan Gupta, 32, was allowed to leave after his licence and rickshaw documents were verified.

Driver fined, to instal electronic-meter
The Andheri RTO conducted an inspection of Gupta's vehicle on Wednesday and concluded that the meter was rigged. Mule informed us that as per the RTO's findings, for every meter reading of, say, 1.20 in an unrigged autorickshaw meter, Gupta's meter showed the same as 1.60.

"In a communication to us, the RTO revealed that Gupta was charging at least Rs. 5 extra for every kilometre," Mule stated.

"The RTO informed us that Gupta would be fined between Rs. 12,000 and Rs. 15,000. His licence has been impounded and once he pays the fine, it will be returned. Also, the RTO will replace his old meter with an electronic one," he added.