In a major shift from its earlier stand, Citu — the ruling CPM’s labour arm — has resolved to back the government in its drive to check illegal autorickshaws plying in the city and its suburbs.
The revamped Citu committee, constituted last week with Shyamal Chakraborty as its president, has informed transport minister Subhas Chakraborty that under no circumstances will it come in the way of the government’s decision to track down “illegal” vehicles.
After getting the Citu nod, police on Saturday booked nearly 50 unauthorised three-wheelers at Ultadanga, Dum Dum, Cossipore and Baranagar. Public Vehicles Department (PVD) director H. Mohan said the drive would continue with police help.
A few months ago, some Citu leaders had demanded that fresh permits be issued to autorickshaws. The matter came up for discussion at the recently-concluded Citu conference, where a large section of participants expressed their displeasure over the illegal plying of three-wheelers. It was unanimously resolved that Citu “would not promote illegal vehicles” and, instead, support the government drive to check them.
Former Citu state secretary Chittabrata Majumdar, in his report, also stated that some leaders were, in fact, “encouraging” unemployed youths to run unauthorised vehicles.
“We have asked local Citu leaders and the West Bengal Autorickshaw Operators Union not to interfere in the police drive. We have told our union leaders to prepare a list of vehicles without licences and hand it over to the police and the transport department,” said state Citu secretariat member and secretary of transport workers’ federation, Subhas Mukherjee.
According to transport department officials, around 10,000 autos ply in and around the city without licences or permits. The PVD and the police had failed to take “punitive action” against illegal autos following a persistent resistance from Citu. The trade union had argued that thousands would be jobless if the police seized their vehicles.