The Gaddigodam Square in Nagpur on Monday turned a battle zone when dozens of auto drivers resorted to “Chakka Jam” agitation that resulted in blockade of hundreds of vehicles on either side of the road and serpentine traffic jam. The auto drivers were protesting challan action by RTO and police for overcrowding of autos. The bone of contention of autowallahs was that on one hand the RTO and police conveniently overlooked overcrowding of Star Buses and on the other hand, they are being harassed for accommodating 3-4 passengers.
Interestingly, State Government has made plying of autos mandatorily by meter only. Similarly, the Government has hiked the fare tariff to Rs 14 from Rs 12 per kilometer. Subsequently, the RTO (Regional Transport Office) officials began their crackdown on erring auto drivers in Gaddigodam Square and nearby area. During the crackdown, hundreds of auto drivers gathered at the spot and started shouting slogans against the RTO authorities. The auto drivers then resorted to blockade of traffic triggering a pandemonium in the area as the traffic came to a standstill. However, the “Chakka Jam” was soon cleared by a posse of police, who reached the spot after being informed and smooth traffic was restored after an enormous effort. The police team was led by Police Inspector Narendra Hiwre, PI Sheikh, PSI Bewariya of Traffic Police Department.
According to State Government directives, the auto drivers flouting the ply-by-meter-only rule for the first time are to be fined Rs 2000 or suspension of licence for 10 days. Subsequently, for the second errant the fine would increase to Rs 2500 and period of suspension of licence to 15 day. And on the third flouting, the auto drivers would have to shell out Rs 3000 as fine or face suspension of licence for 30 days. Calibration of meters as per amended fare tariff has to be done within 15 days by the auto-owners. The amended fare tariff will apply for share-a-autorickshaw and prepaid autorickshaw. Moreover, the passengers having 60×40 centimeter luggage or more will have to pay Rs 3 per luggage.
The President of Tiger Auto Organisation Siraj Paropate has in a press release appealed all the auto drivers to ply their autos only by meters. Plying of auto with meter is beneficial to both driver and passenger.
Mixed reaction to the new rule on plying of autos by meters..!
Nagpur Today wanted to ascertain how the masses react to the new rule of plying of autos by meter only. At Shankar Nagar Square, Alankar Talkies Square, Law College Square etc, most of the auto-rickshaws were adhering to the new rule and had only three passengers seated in their autos. Surprisingly all the autos had their electronic meters running.
However, the people were not very keen in seating in the autos plying by meters, since they felt that the amount that they are charging is way too much. The masses felt that the amount that they were paying so far is fair enough. Nagpur Today also feels that they do not want to support the police department in enforcing a new rule.
Nagpur Today spoke to In-Charge of Traffic Department DCP Tangde over the enforcement of the rule. While lauding his efforts in attempting to bring discipline among the motorists and two-wheeler riders, Nagpur Today wanted to know of how would his department help in enforcing the rule of plying by meter, he answered that the Auto-rickshaw drivers have been directed to install the new electronic meters. They have been granted 15 days period to get the meters calibrated. They have to take the electronic meter to Anjuman College of Polytechnic, where the meters will get calibrated and certified. Till the meter gets calibrated, the auto-drivers can charge the passengers as per the old rate. DCP Tangde also added that the Traffic Department and Road Transport Office have jointly formed 4 squads to ensure that the autos have new meters and that they are charging the passengers on the basis of new rate.
DCP Tangde has appealed to the public at large to co-operate with the RTO and Traffic Department to ensure a clean, transparent public transport system in the city. However, he added that the local civic authorities should definitely look into an effective public transport system like busses to far-off destinations.