August 28, 2015
Fleecing of auto rickshaws in Covai continues unabated despite the High Court ruling that the Government should cancel licenses of drivers if they do not stick to the meter charges.
In spite of the eight-point ruling which includes– cancellation of permit/license; automatic complaint registration centre for the public; display of name, photo and other contact details of the driver/ owner and lastly action against the erring autos in two days of the complaint registered– there does not seem to be any action initiated by the departments concerned. The commuters continue to suffer in silence due to overcharging.
An auto driver charged Rs 300 for a one way trip from RS Puram to Avarampalayam and a lady who had just undergone a heart surgery had little option but to take the auto as she was unable to walk another 200 yards to the stand. “But that hardly matters, even those in the stand demand exorbitantly, refuse to budge and turn us away if we insist on meters”, said A Vedanayaki, a retired head mistress of a corporation school.
Though there was impounding of autos and fines levied to a tune of over Rs 3 lakhs in the first few months of the year, enforcement slackened with the authorities going soft on the auto drivers. The High Court over a PIL trial had ruled that it was the responsibility of the Police Department and the Transport Department to enforce meters and with the slackening, the concerned Consumer Forum has again moved Court with a contempt of Court petition.
Following this, the Court had imposed a fine of Rs 15,000 on the Government for not enforcing the meter rule. The Court has also impressed upon the Government to give in writing the action taken with regard to the eight point ruling of the HC.
Stating that very few autos adhered to the ruling of the Court, A Manoj, an RTI activist said that the concerned departments seldom take complaints and there is no dedicated line whereby the complaints can be filed. “The complaints which are currently given over a landline number are not recorded. While the Auto Drivers Union have been demanding a minimum of Rs 30 for the first three kilometres, the government has fixed the rates at Rs 25, and this with a rider that the charge can be amended depending on the increase in the price of petrol/diesel. But most of these autos run on LPG and these are well within the feasible limits”, he said.
Makkal Auto owner T Selvaraj, who has a fleet of 200 autos and has been running on meter at Rs 12 per kilometre, which is 50 per cent less than the rate fixed by the Government, against stiff opposition from the Autorickshaw Union, told Covai Post that the charges were feasible and that they would continue to serve the public at a reasonable cost.
The Joint Commissioner of Transport P Muruganantham was not available for comments.