Auto-rickshaws line up at Master Canteen Square in Bhubaneswar. Telegraph picture
Bhubaneswar, Feb. 12: Auto-rickshaw operators have criticised government's plans to restrict the number of three wheelers in the capital.
A proposal to restrict the number of auto-rickshaws was first mooted during the meeting of the traffic management committee last month. The committee is headed by the home secretary and consists of members from police, the transport department, the Bhubaneswar Development Authority and the works department.
All-Odisha Auto Chalak Mahasangha said the move would result in the loss of livelihood for auto-rickshaw operators.
"We do not protest if the government wants to run more city buses. But, we believe we should also have equal rights to operate and raise the number of vehicles. We should also have dedicated lanes for auto-rickshaws," said general secretary of the association Padman Kumar Samal.
Transport officials said around 27,000 auto-rickshaws were registered with the two regional transport offices in the capital, while another 10,000 auto-rickshaws came to the city every day ferrying passengers from the outskirts.
"On one hand, the state government is talking about creating job opportunities through events such as Make In Odisha, and on the other hand it is planning to take away the livelihood of thousands of auto-rickshaw operators. The government should conduct a detailed survey of transportation facilities before limiting the number of auto-rickshaws," added Samal.
According to the plan mooted by the government, auto-rickshaws would only be allowed to ply on feeder routes, which will help decongest traffic on major roads.
The auto-rickshaw operators said the plan to restrict the number of vehicles in the city would affect their business at a time when the private cab service had already hit their business badly.
"Several big players have already started cab service in the capital city. Our income has reduced drastically as a result of this," said an auto-rickshaw operator.
Transport officials, however, said they would conduct a detailed survey before enforcing the new plan.
"We will also hold a meeting with other stake holders before finalising anything. Besides, we will also identify feeder routes to ensure the livelihood of auto-rickshaw operators," said an official of the transport department.