|An autorickshaw in Siliguri on Friday. (Kundan Yolmo)
Siliguri, May 30: The state transport department has decided to replace eight-seater autorickshaws in Siliguri with Tata Magic cars as the former is a major source of air and noise pollution.
Madan Bhattacharya, a member of the state transport authority (STA) that functions under the transport department, said the decision would be implemented only after talks with drivers, police and other stakeholders.
Siliguri and the surrounding areas have around 1,200 eight-seater three-wheelers, which are called “city autos.” The town also has smaller autorickshaws which can carry three passengers, but they won’t be withdrawn from the roads.
“The STA has decided that the autorickshaws which ply on routes in and around Siliguri will be withdrawn. In June, the STA will hold a meeting with drivers, police and all other stakeholders to discuss the matter. The autorickshaws will be replaced by Tata Magic cars ( maxi cabs) which can carry eight passengers,” said Bhattacharya.
“We want to make it clear that the interests of autorickshaw owners and drivers will be taken care of. The owners who have permits to run autorickshaws on different routes would have the option to buy maxi cabs and run them on the same routes,” he said.
According to Bhattacharya, there are certain areas outside the town, where autorickshaws are not available.
“Most of the eight-seater autorickshaws have surpassed longevity and pollute the environment because of excessive smoke emission,” Bhattacharya said.
“The drivers regularly misbehave with passengers and drop them midway. There are instances when drivers have assaulted passengers and even traffic policemen,” said Harish Dutta, a marketing professional in Siliguri.
The representatives of the autorickshaw owners’ said they were yet to be told about the decision to withdraw the vehicles.