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Prepaid auto eludes Bhubaneswar

Bhubaneswar/Cuttack, Dec. 8: Prepaid autorickshaw service continues to elude Bhubaneswar even as it is running successfully at Cuttack railway station.

A committee has already been formed in Cuttack comprising the deputy commissioner of police (Cuttack), the regional transport officer and the Advocates’ Committee to chalk out a plan for extension of the prepaid autorickshaw service up to Badambadi bus stand.

More than 110 autorickshaws will be engaged to start the prepaid service from Badambadi, which is likely to be inaugurated within a month.

“A high-level meeting has been convened for fixation of fares and routes for the proposed prepaid autorickshaw service from Badambadi,” said assistant commissioner of police (traffic) Pramod Rath.

Rath said there was also a proposal for launching a prepaid taxi service from Cuttack railway station. Efforts are already on to identify land for the taxi service. A meeting in this regard will shortly be held with the officials of the East Coast Railways.

Around 150 autorickshaws, which were earlier engaged in ferrying passengers from the railway station, are now a part of the existing prepaid autorickshaw service that was inaugurated in Cuttack in October 2011.

The Cuttack city has been divided into 22 zones, besides a ring zone comprising a radius of 2km covering areas such as OMP Square, College Square, Ranihat and Jobra, for the prepaid auto service.

On the other hand, the commerce and transport department was entrusted by the state government to launch a similar service in Bhubaneswar. While it was proposed to start from the beginning of 2013, it was later decided to begin by the end of May as there was no rate chart. But, nothing has progressed till date.

“The police, in collaboration with the railway authorities, started a prepaid autorickshaw service in Cuttack. However, when it came to the capital city, the same police team failed to launch the service here,’’ alleged Bijay Mishra, a resident of Nayapalli.

Commerce and transport secretary G. Mathivathanan said: “A fare fixation committee was constituted to fix the rates for the prepaid autorickshaw service headed by the deputy commissioner of police. But the panel has not given its report so far. Once it is available with us, we will try to implement it as soon as possible.’’

A senior official of the department, however, said that the entire exercise might take another six months or more.

Bhubaneswar deputy commissioner of police Nitinjeet Singh, who heads the rate fixation committee, said that the panel, comprising assistant commissioner of police (traffic), regional transport officer and motor vehicles inspector, had met twice.

“The decision about zones and a rate chart is yet to be prepared. We had asked the regional transport office to make a chart, which they are working on. We hope the rates would be fixed very soon and the new service will start in the near future,’’ Singh said.

J.P. Mishra, chief public relations officer of East Coast Railway, said: “About a year ago, a formal proposal had been submitted to the police and space identified near Bhubaneswar railway station. We had extended all possible help to launch the prepaid service at Cuttack railway station. We hope a similar service will shortly start in Bhubaneswar, too, for the benefit of the common man.”

“We have opened a pre-paid taxi service near the airport in collaboration with local operators. As many passengers are not willing to use autorickshaws near the airport because of safety reasons, we have no specific plan to launch a prepaid autorickshaw service. However, if the state government provides such a service, it will definitely help some people,’’ said director of Biju Patnaik International Airport Sharad Kumar.