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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Terror on three wheels
- Auto-cracy clogs chaos crossroads

The auto raj extends from the city centre to the peripheries and Howrah. Metro took stock of the danger posed by three-wheelers on three crowded stretches.

Howrah

What we saw: The autorickshaw drivers in Howrah do not find it necessary to have number plates on their vehicles. The Howrah-Salkia route is a case in point. Most of the three-wheelers on the route ply without number plates. The cops at the crossroads could not be bothered.

When asked why his auto did not have a number plate, Lallan Majhi, one of the drivers, said: “What difference does a number plate make' When the police and the passengers are not worried, why are you'”

Publicspeak: “The autos are a perfect example of lawlessness on Howrah roads. No rule applies to them. They pick up as many passengers as possible and drive rashly without thinking of pedestrians. And it is not possible to complain against the autos since they do not have number plates,” said Mohammad Kazim Iqbal, a resident of Dobson Road.

Dum Dum Station

What we saw: If you walk the stretch between Nagerbazar and Dum Dum station during peak hour, you need a miracle not to be hit by an autorickshaw. And if you take a bus to cross the stretch, you will have to wait at bottlenecks created by three-wheelers parked in the middle of the road or making a U-turn.

Near the Dum Dum junction, the autos block the way to the underpass that leads to the Metro station. Private cars are often damaged by the unruly three-wheelers here.

Publicspeak: “The autorickshaw drivers honk all the time, drive rashly and park wherever they want to. The school children run the greatest risk of being hit,” says Sonali Mukherjee, a resident of Nagerbazar.

Ultadanga

What we saw: According to residents and shop-owners, Ultadanga was once a quiet and peaceful place, before about 200 three-wheelers started plying to Salt Lake, VIP Road and Sovabazar from there.

Today, the Ultadanga crossing is one of the most lawless stretches in the city, despite being the mouth of the most important link to the airport.

Autorickshaws headed for Lake Town, Bangur, Baguiati, City Centre, Karunamoyee, Ahiritola and Sovabazar occupy more than half the carriageway in Ultadanga. They stop and pick up passengers at will. Once on VIP Road, the autorickshaws speed as if they are on an Formula One track.

Publicspeak: “The maximum number of autorickshaw accidents happen on VIP Road because the three-wheelers move very fast here. Moreover, the vehicles are overloaded with passengers sitting on both sides of the driver. I have even seen three people on the front seat in addition to the driver,” says Rakesh Pachisia, who travels down VIP Road daily.

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