In sheer violation of the Supreme Court directions, autorickshaws in the city are plying outside the permitted limit to pick and drop passengers.
As per the transport norms, auto rickshaws are permitted to carry passengers inside the municipal corporation limits, which include the four octroi posts at the periphery areas of the city; Barewal Awana, Dhandari, Guru Nanak Engineering College, Gill Road and Hotel Amaltas on Jalandhar Road.
This illegal practice is flourishing right under the nose of the traffic cops and transport authorities, who have failed to deter the malpractice. Owing to the illegal practice of ferrying of passengers by the auto-rickshaw drivers, Punjab Roadways, Pepsu Road Transport Corporation and private buses are running into severe losses worth lakhs everyday.
All India Trade Union Congress Union (AITUC) president Harbansh Singh said, “The department is bearing huge losses. Most of the auto rickshaw owners do not have due permits with them and some of them, who have the permits, run their autos on any route across the city. Moreover, many auto rickshaws go even 20-30 km ahead of Octroi post to ferry passengers.”
“Several complaints have been made in the past, but the transport authorities remain active for some time, and then they let autos violate the norms,” Singh said.
Punjab Mini Bus Service state president Jaswinder Singh Grewal said, “Auto rickshaws run on slow speed, which does not match the speed limits followed on national highways. On the one hand, they cause traffic chaos on highways, and on the other hand, they cause heavy losses to private buses. Besides, security of passengers is compromised. If any untoward incident takes place, no insurance or compensation is given to the passengers.”
“The authorities concerned are unperturbed, as the auto drivers are violating traffic rules unabashedly because they are working in connivance with the police,” Grewal said.
Contacted, deputy commissioner Rajat Agarwal said, “I will direct the district transport authorities to look into the matter. If any irregularity is found in terms of violating regulations, the district transport officer will take strict action in collaboration with the police.”
On being asked to provide a permanent solution to the illegal practice, district transport officer Anil Garg said, “We can only issue challan to the autorickshaw owners, and ask the traffic police officials to keep a regular watch to stop the malpractice.”