| Naren Pathak addresses the meeting at Rukmininagar on Wednesday. Telegraph picture |
Feb. 27: The transport department today informed Gauhati High Court that consistent resistance by autorickshaw owners and drivers in the city had stalled installation of electronic fare meters.
In an affidavit submitted before the division bench of Chief Justice A.K. Goel and Justice N. Kotiswar Singh, the department stated that fare meters were introduced in 1992 and rates of auto fares were revised thrice — in 2002, 2010 and 2012, but those running the autorickshaws continued to hold agitation demanding further hike in fare rates and opening of shops for repairing meters.
The court on January 22 asked the transport department to inform it as to why electronic fare meters have not been installed resulting in autorickshaw drivers asking for exorbitant rates from commuters.
The court issued the order after it registered a suo moto PIL, based on a letter written to the Chief Justice in December by Nandan Shyam Choudhury, a retired government employee.
In the letter, Choudhury, a resident of the Gauhati Club area, had sought the Chief Justice’s intervention as autorickshaw drivers were charging fares according to their will in the absence of fare meters.
During hearing of the PIL (5/2013) today, the transport department informed the court that the Regional Transport Authority (RTA) had convened a meeting on March 1. It will be attended by representatives of all autorickshaw associations, officials of the departments concerned, legal metrology, senior superintendent of police, traffic police, officials of the ASTC and the GMC to ensure enforcement of its decision to cancel licences of autorickshaws that are run without using fare meters.
“The RTA launched a drive on February 16 and seized some autorickshaws but the drive had to be called off as autorickshaw unions blocked the busy GS Road. The RTA has taken a serious view on the matter for implementation of fare meters and provide the passengers with safe and comfortable public transport, specially the autorickshaws,” the affidavit stated.
In November, the RTA fixed Rs 20 for the first 1km and Rs 1.90 for every next 200 metres. It also announced that commuters would have to pay 50 per cent more than the regular fare between 9pm and 6am. But the autorickshaw owners are demanding Rs 25 for every kilometre and opening of shops for repairing fare meters.
The department rejected both their demands.
“Another problem of recalibration of the fare meter has emerged since all fare meters already fitted with autorickshaws display Rs 10 for the first 2km as calibrated in 2000 and are not in conformity with the latest revised rates. There are 4,499 autorickshaws in the city and if all these fare meters are to be calibrated to the new rate, it would take a long time. All these issues will be discussed in the meeting on March 1,” the affidavit said.