The Telegraph
Monday , June 18 , 2012
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Rules to rein in autos but...

A committee set up by the transport department has suggested a fare structure and other measures to streamline autorickshaws but enforcing them seems a tall order given the opposition of a large section of the operators.

The report, a copy of which is with Metro, has proposed Rs 5, Rs 7 and Rs 9 as the fares for a ride spanning 3, 5 and 7km, respectively.

Transport department sources said the figures had been arrived at after considering the economics of the auto business but many drivers have vowed to oppose them unless they are allowed to ferry as many passengers as they want.

“We will accept the government’s fare structure only if we get a free hand in ferrying passengers. They cannot simultaneously decide on the fares and the number of passengers we can ferry,” said an auto driver and a member of the Trinamul auto union that controls maximum three-wheelers in the city.

The panel, set up in April after autos brought the city to a standstill protesting the hike in LPG prices, has also suggested that all legal autos in and around the city be given high security — or tamper-proof — number plates. “Once such number plates are issued, it would be easier to crack down on illegal autos. Many autos are plying illegally — 60,000, according to an estimate — in and around the city after the owners got them painted green to pass off as LPG-fuelled,” said a member of the committee.

The operators, however, are not keen on replacing their number plates. “A high-security number plate costs up to Rs 900. Only if the government shells out the money will we install them,” said a driver on the Mahatma Gandhi Road-Kadapara route.

Rationalisation of auto routes is another key suggestion of the panel. A transport department official said there was no reliable account of the number of illegal routes in four police commissionerate areas — Calcutta, Howrah, Salt Lake and Barrackpore.

“It has been suggested that the city be split into six zones and autos for each zone made to sport a unique colour on the hood. Also, the routes should be shortened and the number of autos plying on each fixed. This will stop autos jumping routes and creating chaos,” the official said.

The committee has suggested that the government curb auto movement on main arteries as far as possible. For instance, autos bound for Behala can be asked to take James Long Sarani, instead of the busy Diamond Harbour Road.

Transport minister Madan Mitra said the committee had factored in responses from all quarters, including the police and auto unions, before preparing the report.