Will four-wheelers replace autos in city? | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Will four-wheelers replace autos in city?

The state government is considering phasing out auto-rickshaws completely from Mumbai, and replacing them with sturdier, small four-wheelers. Discussions are being held to this effect within the state transport department.

mumbai Updated: Nov 09, 2010 01:07 IST
Shashank Rao

The state government is considering phasing out auto-rickshaws completely from Mumbai, and replacing them with sturdier, small four-wheelers. Discussions are being held to this effect within the state transport department.

The recommendation had also been made in the vision document the department presented to Chief Minister Ashok Chavan earlier this year.

A total of 1.04 lakh autos, all of which run on Compressed Natural Gas, operate across the city’s eastern and western suburbs. “The main problem is that auto-rickshaws are lightweight and very often get crushed in accidents. We are looking at four-wheeler models that are strong and small in size,” said a senior transport official.

Playing it safe, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, state transport minister, said it is no more than a suggestion and that no deadline has been set to implement it. “We need to have detailed discussions with all agencies that run auto-rickshaws,” Vikhe-Patil said. “We also need to understand the pros and cons for the drivers before taking it further.”

The department, the transport official said, hopes to be able to shortlist a vehicle from one of the European car manufacturers, especially from countries such as Italy and Germany. “Automobile manufacturers there make sturdier and smaller vehicles that might be useful on Mumbai roads,” the official said.

Two automobile giants from India have already made presentations on vehicles that can replace auto-rickshaws, but officials said they are not particularly impressed.

The Mumbai Auto Rickshaw Union feels the plan is the government’s way of making money from car manufacturers. “We will oppose it strongly. It will not only affect the auto drivers but also change the travelling pattern of middle-class families, whose only luxury is taking an auto,” said Sharad Rao, president of Mumbai Auto Rickshaw Union.

Since June, the department has been scrapping autos operating illegally, without permits and driving licences. So far, it has scrapped more than 3,000 autos.