The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Heavy-penalty drive on autos

The transport department is at it again. Every few months, it seems to wake up to the fact that many of the auto-rickshaws plying on the city streets are doing so without permits. A ‘crackdown’ is announced, a few errant autos are booked and then it’s back to square one.

This week has been earmarked for yet another ‘crackdown’, with officials of the transport department threatening to slam the brakes on auto-rickshaws without proper permits.

Three-wheelers throughout the city will come under the permit scanner, with special emphasis on the Gariahat and Hatibagan areas. The drive will be conducted in association with the police, local councillors and representatives from the auto-rickshaw operators’ union.

“We have information that a number of three-wheelers are plying without permits. There are some with false number-plates, too. We shall seize the vehicles and slap a heavy penalty on all such autos,’’ warned Lakshman Bhattacharya, deputy chairman of the State Transport Authority.

According to transport department officials, the state government has given permits to 10,000 auto-rickshaws in the city and its adjoining areas. The routes and registration numbers of the vehicles have also been clearly defined. But there are over 15,000 three-wheelers on the streets of Calcutta.

While conducting a recent spot-check, transport officials found three or four auto-rickshaws plying with identical number-plates. It was clear that while one had a permit, the rest did not.

Transport minister Subhas Chakraborty, with Bhattacharya, met the auto-rickshaw operators last week and made it clear that the government would take “drastic action” against all vehicles plying illegally. “The operators assured us that they would help the government bring the errant autos to book,’’ Bhattacharya said.

Private vehicles that are being used regularly to ferry a pool of passengers from several points of the city will also be stopped, observed Bhattacharya.

Several ‘share’ private cars and jeeps, or ‘chartered’ luxury buses ply from Esplanade, Alipore, Gariahat, Shyambazar and Ultadanga, especially during office hours. This has irked the bus and minibus lobby, that has demanded “immediate action” against such vehicles.

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