Cheat code: Here’s how Mumbai auto, kaali-peeli cab drivers rig e-meters
Just by connecting LED, FM circuit or pulse generator to the senser wire of an e-meter, along with a 12V DC battery and a button – the meter can be rigged.mumbai Updated: Feb 21, 2018 10:11 IST
The next time you see blinking or dancing LED lights in a temple fitted on dashboards of taxis or autorickshaws, chances are, these are silently increasing your journey fare. These are some of the tricks adopted for tampering e-meters fitted in these vehicles to fleece passengers, according to meter repairers, auto and taxi drivers.
Hindustan Times spoke to the meter repairers and taxi drivers to find out how the e-meters that were touted to be tamper-proof are being rigged. Requesting anonymity, an e-meter repairer said raw materials for rigging costs only Rs 50 to Rs200. There is no need to open e-meter for tampering.
Just by connecting LED, FM circuit or pulse generator to the senser wire of an e-meter, along with a 12V DC battery and a button – the meter can be rigged. He said there are other tricks like putting an extra magnet, but it is risky as the e-meters run at double speed and therefore chances of getting caught is high. “Meter repairers charge Rs1,000 to Rs2,000 for tampering e-meters, ” he said.
If the speed at which the LEDs are blinking is faster, e-meters inside taxis and autos will run faster. If an FM scanners’ circuit is attached to the main e-meter senser, the drivers can adjust the e-meter speed by changing the FM stations – the higher the frequency, the greater the speed.
Sayam Godha, honorary head, meter testing department, Saboo Sidhik Engineering College, Byculla said e-meters pick up the pulse from the vehicle. “Till a specific number of pulse is generated for a set distance, the meters display the programmed fare. But, if the source of pulse feed is external, the meter will run fast,” he said.
The state made e-meters mandatory for all taxis and autos since April 2012. It had claimed that all the e-meters introduced in the market are tamper-proof.
The tall claims proved wrong when a civil engineer from Jogeshwari unearthed the alleged tampering of e-meters after an auto driver fleeced him. According to union leaders and meter repairers, mainly drivers, who operate taxis and auto rickshaws on long routes go for e-meter tampering. “The drivers first check whether the passenger is regular or a newcomer and then they switch on the pulse generators,” said the repairer.
“Some unauthorized meter repairers and former employees of e-meter manufactures and dealers do such illegal things,” he said. According to repairers, this business has been flourishing in areas like Colaba, Mahalaxmi, GTB Nagar, Mumbai Central, Wadala (East), Kurla, Ghatkopar, Bhandup, Jogeshwari, Andheri, Dahisar since the Legal Metrology department hand over e-meter recalibration to RTOs.
An RTO inspector said that earlier RTOs used to break seals of meters, before recalibration. Now, the process is bypassed and meter repairers are allowed to open them, leaving the gates open for tampering. Another official said making the e-meter testing process online is required.
First Published: Feb 21, 2018 10:10 IST