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Sunday, Nov 17, 2019

Auto fares in Delhi likely to go up by June-end, 18.75 % hike expected

The Delhi cabinet, led by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, had approved the revised auto fare structure on March 8 this year.

delhi Updated: Jun 12, 2019 10:34 IST
Sweta Goswami
Sweta Goswami
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
An auto-rickshaw drives past the country's seat of power North Block, in New Delhi. AP Photo/Manish Swarup
An auto-rickshaw drives past the country's seat of power North Block, in New Delhi. AP Photo/Manish Swarup
         

Auto-rickshaw fares in the national capital will increase by 18.75% by the end of this month, with the Delhi government deciding to go ahead with notifying the revised fares without approval of Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal.

On Tuesday, transport minister Kailash Gahlot asked his department to notify the new fares at the earliest. The Delhi cabinet, led by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, had approved the revised auto fare structure on March 8 this year.

“The new fares are likely to be implemented by the end of this month. It will come into effect as soon as a notification is issued which will take about 10 days or so. I have sent two communications to the transport department on this so far,” said Gahlot. Once implemented, auto fares will see a revision in the city after nearly six years.

Gahlot said that the tussle on whether the ‘competent authority’ in the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 is the L-G or the minister was resolved after former principal secretary (law) Sanjay Garg made fresh observations that ‘prior concurrence of the L-G is not required in notifying various proposals’. On May 30, Garg was transferred and Sanjay Kumar Aggarwal was appointed as Delhi’s new principal secretary (law).

Confirming the move, officials in the transport commissioner’s office said the department is on board and that it is preparing an order for getting the revised fare structure passed in the state transport authority (STA) and then notifying it.

Earlier, Garg’s predecessor, AK Mendiratta had given a contrary view saying that the definition of the ‘state government’ varied from one enactment to another. In this case, he had said the enactment was the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, which defines ‘state government’ as the administrator, who he said was the L-G as per the law.

“The law department in its latest comments has stated that as per the Supreme Court’s verdict of July 4, 2018, the L-G is only required to be kept informed about all the decisions of the council of ministers. The transport commissioner, through a letter sent last month, informed the L-G about the cabinet decision on auto fares,” the minister said. In Delhi, only reserved subjects - law and order, land and police – come directly under the Central government through the L-G.

Officials in the minister’s office said so far, no response has come from the L-G office, which did not comment on the issue.

Under the revised fare structure, a passenger will have to pay Rs 25 for the first 1.5 km, Rs 9.5 for each subsequent kilometre and Rs 0.75 per minute for waiting at a traffic junction or moving at a speed of less than 6 kmph. At present, auto fares cost Rs 25 for the first two kilometers and Rs 8 is added for every km thereafter.

Officials said the revised rates would be implemented in phases, as the meters of auto-rickshaws would eed to be recalibrated. “There are 95,000 registered autos in Delhi out of which 89,000 are operational. Recalibration of all the metres will be carried out in batches, which is expected to be completed in a month’s time at the most,” a transport official said.

The move comes months ahead of the Assembly elections in Delhi that are scheduled in early next year. A key vote base of the Kejriwal led party, auto-rickshaw drivers, according to a senior AAP functionary, had as much as 50% contribution to the votes that the party won during the Assembly elections in 2015.