Commuting turned painful on Wednesday as the autorickshaw strike entered the fourth day in Patna.
Vishwanath Rai, a resident of Raja Bazaar, said he had to walk 6km to reach Patna Junction.
“No autorickshaw could be seen and the city ride buses were packed. I asked some rickshaws and they demanded Rs 200. I work in a small shop near the station and it was impossible for me to pay this amount. It took at least one-and-a-half hours for me to reach the station,” he said.
An autorickshaw usually charges Rs 10 on normal days and takes around 30 minutes to reach Patna Junction from Raja Bazaar.
Alarmed by the situation, the state government called an emergency meeting of the autorickshaw unions to sort things out. With chances that the strike which started last Sunday, might end late Wednesday evening, the urban development and housing department has constituted a committee that will be chaired by Patna commissioner N. Vijaya Lakshmi. It will deal with the issue of autorickshaw parking lots.
“The strike would continue. However, we have met urban development and housing department minister Samrat Choudhary on Wednesday and he has assured to take care of the problems. For the next 15 days, it has been announced that the autorickshaw drivers will not have to pay any money to private parties if they have to park their vehicles in the designated stands,” Rajkumar Jha, the general secretary of Bihar State Autorickshaw Drivers’ Union said.
A committee, comprising the traffic superintendent of police, senior superintendent, the district magistrate and the PMC commissioner, has been formed under the Patna commissioner.
“In these 15 days, the committee would be looking into all the problems of the drivers and it would take a decision keeping us in the loop. We have decided to hold a meeting at 8pm on Wednesday and the members will be discussing the state government’s stand. A decision whether to continue the strike or not will be taken after the meeting,” Jha said.
Amardeep Kumar, a resident of Rajiv Nagar, said he couldn’t go to his office because of the strike.
“I was forced to return home. I waited for more than two hours for an autorickshaw but couldn’t find any. I don’t drive any vehicle and travel each day in autorickshaws. I had to call up my boss to persuade him that I won’t be able to come because of the problem,” Amardeep said.