We all have faced auto drivers who wait at the stands but refuse to go onto certain routes. While the authorities have acted against such auto drivers in the past, the problem still persists. Now the authorities in Mumbai have taken strict action against the auto drivers and have cancelled close to 1,000 driving licenses.
The Regional Transport Office (RTO) has cancelled licenses of 918 auto-rickshaw drivers in the Mumbai city in the past six months. The action was taken against the auto drivers who refuse the customers to go on certain routes because of various reason. The drive started against the errant auto drivers in the city over a long period of time. Many of the auto drivers appealed to the court against the decision of cancelling the licenses but the appeals were rejected. Such auto drivers without the license will not be allowed to drive their autos across the state.
The drive was lead by State transport Commissioner Shekhar Chenne and was launched in February 2019. Since then, 12,342 auto-rickshaw drivers have been booked for various offences. However, 918 drivers were specifically booked for refusing rides to specific areas. Over 5,500 auto drivers were booked for ferrying more than three passengers at a time. This was done under the overloading act as autos have a limit of carrying four occupants in total, including the driver. At least 6,257 auto drivers were booked for not carrying their badges or licenses. While 42 others were booked for overcharging the customers.
The report on Mumbai Mirror also mentions that over 60% of the offences happened in BKC, Bandra Terminus, Kurla and Lokmaya Tilak Terminus. An officer also said that the Bandra and Kurla are most affected areas when it comes to auto drivers breaking the laws.
Assistant Regional Transport Officer, Tanali Chavan assisted and supervised 14 special squads for the crackdown. The squads were formed after repeated complaints from the passengers. The squads began the crackdown by posing as customers and did it discreetly to catch the autorickshaw drivers red-handedly. It should be noted that all the special officers were acting undercover in various areas and caught the unsuspected drivers.
Chenne also said that there will be zero tolerance in the future when an auto-rickshaw driver refuses to ply on a certain route. He also added that such drivers will not be allowed to operate the auto-rickshaws in any part of the city and they will have to go off the streets.
In the meantime, auto union leader, Thumi Kurian has criticised the special drive and has called it too harsh on the autorickshaw drivers. He also added that cancelling the license affects 918 families directly and the drivers must be given another chance to prove themselves. Commuters, on the other hand, lauded the move and said fare refusals are rampant in the city and commuters from railway stations are most affected.