Students, residents angry as autos overcharge in Viman Nagar | pune news | Hindustan Times
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Students, residents angry as autos overcharge in Viman Nagar

Autorickshaw drivers refuse to ply by the meter and charge Rs 20-Rs 30 more per ride in the locality.

pune Updated: Jul 16, 2017 14:25 IST
Ananya Barua 
A student tries to hire an autorickshaw in Viman Nagar.
A student tries to hire an autorickshaw in Viman Nagar.(HT PHOTO)

Jigar Chhadwa, a 20-year-old student, said that Viman Nagar has become an extortion hub for autorickshaw drivers . “It’s like a close-knit cartel,” added Jigar, who is a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) student at the Symbiosis centre for management studies, Viman Nagar.

Pointing out the rampant incidence of overcharging in the area, Jigar reached out to Hindustan Times. “The autorickshaw drivers here do not use the meter at all. Travelling around this area becomes very problematic for students, as they are always charging higher than it is supposed to be. You cannot do much about it, as the pattern is the same all around the area with almost all the drivers,” he said.

To test the current situation, this HT reporter asked around eight autorickshaws for a trip from the Symbiosis centre for management studies to a nearby Café Coffee Day outlet, a common joint for the students, at a distance of mere 400 metres. The fare quoted was Rs 40 to Rs 50 by the autorickshaw drivers while the fare is only between ₹20 to ₹25. None of the drivers agreed to go by the meter.

One of the autorickshaw drivers, who declined to reveal his name, said, “Are you new in this area? I’ve never ever seen anyone going by the meter here. It’s not the way we do things here.” When urged to point out if any rule bars them for using the meter, he added, “There is no rule as such, we all have been told to charge the said amount for local areas, and we do so, no matter what.”

Sharing the daily problems that he and his friends face, Jigar said, “They don’t have their own chart, but they sort of follow set numbers, like for within a kilometre they would charge ₹40-₹50. For them, the charges begin from ₹30, and not 18, like it should as per the meter. They quote their own price whatsoever, and it increases at night and during the rains, when they know we need transport desperately.”

Silsila Reddy, a first year student of the Symbiosis Law School, further added, “It has been only two weeks for us here, and we mostly travel from SLS to Datta mandir area, and it’s hardly 500 metres, yet we can feel the pinch of overcharging here.”

“I travel around areas of the Phoenix mall, and they never go by the meter. They are always charging ₹10 to ₹20 rupees more than the current amount,” shared Yong Dao, a Thailand-based professional.

It was further revealed that the autorickshaw stands in the area are different for local and city autos. To travel around the local areas, one has to comply to their demands, however, the city autos who travel further agree to go by the meter.

Validating the situation, a city autorickshaw driver, on request of anonymity, shared, “The local autos never go by the meter. It is an unsaid rule here. Many have tried to communicate it to the traffic police, but nothing works. They know it, but won’t do anything about it. If I take you by meter to any local area, these local drivers would create problems for me. It is their territory, no one can do anything about it.”

“I have tried to reach out to the municipality and the higher authorities, but in vain. I am in my 3rd year of college, and will be gone after that, but I hope that before I go, I am able to start a discourse on this problem, and bring about a change,” Jigar concluded.