Monday, 30th October 2017

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Rogue auto driver's route illegal

The Jadavpur-Taratala auto stand where a mother and her son had been allegedly reduced to tears after being harassed by a driver and his colleagues on Monday morning is apparently not on the transport department's list of sanctioned routes.

By Kinsuk Basu
  • Published 1.08.18
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Beltala: The Jadavpur-Taratala auto stand where a mother and her son had been allegedly reduced to tears after being harassed by a driver and his colleagues on Monday morning is apparently not on the transport department's list of sanctioned routes.

A departmental meeting on Tuesday to discuss the draft of the proposed auto policy listed nine auto routes originating either outside Jadavpur railway station or Jadavpur police station and leading to Garia, Ranikuthi, Gopalnagar and Tollygunge Metro.

But there is no mention of Taratala on that list, although police maintain that almost all auto drivers at the Jadavpur-Taratala stand carry valid route permits.

The incident on Monday mirrored the manner in which the majority of auto drivers behave with passengers.

According to a complaint lodged by the 39-year-old woman and later withdrawn, she was allegedly threatened and prevented from boarding any auto at the stand because she had riled a driver by getting off his vehicle to try and catch a bus.

The woman said she and her son were in a hurry to reach his school - the Class I student had an examination to write - and so had alighted from the stationary auto to catch a bus that was passing by. This was around 6.30am.

She had apparently offered to pay for four passengers, but the auto drivers at the stand allegedly refused to ferry mother and son in a show of solidarity with their miffed colleague.

In the draft policy to regulate autos, the transport department has identified 475 routes in and around Calcutta, including Howrah, parts of Barrackpore, Salt Lake and South 24-Parganas.

"While scanning the list on Tuesday, we didn't find the Jadavpur-Taratala route," a senior official of the transport department said. "There are many routes where autos ply without legal sanction."

A team of police officers also attended the meeting in Kasba to discuss the auto policy. "We have asked the police to send us detailed reports with inputs on whether there is a demand for such routes," the transport department official said.

Transport minister Suvendu Adhikari is scheduled to unveil the auto policy on August 14.

The problem of spotting whether an existing auto-route is a valid or not remains one of the major challenges of a government committee that is looking into the nitty-gritty of the proposed auto policy.

Adhikari had released the draft in June, giving a month's time for objections and suggestions to be sent.

Sources said most route committees were yet to inform the authorities how many autos ply in their areas. This count is necessary to identify whether a particular auto route has far more vehicles than the sanctioned fleet strength. The sanctioned strength of the Dum Dum-Cossipore Ferry Ghat route is 42, but more than 100 ply there. On the Phoolbagan-Salt Lake Tank No. 13 route, the fleet should not exceed 55. But the current fleet strength is more than 65.