Students walk to college in Ranchi on Saturday. (Prashant Mitra)
Ranchi, Sept. 21: City commuters had yet another horrific day with around 9,000 diesel auto-rickshaws staying away from roads for the second consecutive day today over some half a dozen demands.
Hundreds of passengers were stranded on Harmu Bypass, Ratu Road, Kanke Road, Hinoo Road, Sirom Toli Road, Circular Road and Bariatu Road.
Though around 500-600 petrol auto-rickshaws and 65 city buses were plying, the numbers were too small to make up for the absence of 9,000 diesel autos.
College girls, who mainly depend on auto-rickshaws, were the worst sufferers. Many of them were seen riding pillion on their parents and relatives’ motorbikes to reach college.
“I don’t have a scooty. Rickshaws are too expensive, and too slow. So, I didn’t have any option, but to request my father to drop me to college,” said Anupriya, a student of Nirmala College in Doranda.
Visitors to the state capital in the last two days were in for an unpleasant surprise because they did not how to commute in Ranchi in the absence of auto-rickshaws.
“I have come from Latehar and have been waiting here for auto-rickshaws for the last one hour. I need to go to RINPAS, Kanke, for medicines urgently. Finally, I have asked one of my relatives to bring his motorbike,” said Deepak Oraon, waiting on Ratu Road.
At Birsa Chowk, Kishoreganj Chowk and Pandra tempers ran high after those supporting the strike allegedly roughed up drivers of city buses and petrol auto-rickshaws for ferrying passengers.
Officer-in-charge of Kotwali police station Arwind Kumar Sinha termed them minor incidents. “Glasses of some auto-rickshaws were broken. But after police intervened, offenders did not disturb city buses and petrol autos,” he said.
Diesel autos have been on an indefinite strike since yesterday to demand more city permits.
The regional transport authorities had issued permits only to 2.335 diesel auto-rickshaws, allowing them to ply on the city roads.
The others had been asked to run outside the city, where passenger counts aren’t good enough.
President of Jharkhand Pradesh Diesel Auto-chalak Mahasangh Dinesh Soni said the strike would continue unless their demands were fulfilled.
Other demands include batch number for each and every auto-rickshaw driver, cancellation of tenders for parking stands, check on the practice of demanding bribes for issuing permits, and immediate demarcation of parking zones for diesel auto-rickshaws.
Deputy commissioner Vinay Kumar Chobey said the issue relating to permit was pending before court and the district administration could not interfere.