BHUBANESWAR: Pink autos, launched with the purpose of providing safe travel to women commuters in the Capital, are hardly serving their purpose.
Two months after it was flagged off with much fanfare by the Chief Minister, women commuters have expressed dissatisfaction over the services. Drivers invite male passengers to share the auto. Such practice is prevalent mostly near the railway station, bus stand and educational institutions.
Despite efforts by the Commissionerate Police to provide a safe auto-rickshaw ride for city women, many drivers continue to violate the norms. “The police claim to have a record of the antecedents and character of a pink-auto driver, but what about the intentions of male co-passenger,” questions Priyanka Das, a management professional.
While Police Commissioner RP Sharma stated that the pink auto drivers have been instructed not to carry male passengers once the vehicle is filled with female passengers, the capacity restrictions are being blatantly flouted. A pink auto driver, however, argues that “already hit by traffic restrictions on the number of passengers, we cannot earn enough if we wait for only women passengers whose number is less in some areas.” After the introduction of pink auto services, the business of normal auto drivers has been badly hit. “Does it mean that travelling in our vehicles is not safe for women passengers,” some drivers, not running pink auto-rickshaws questioned.
On the other hand, most of the commuters are familiar with the emergency numbers displayed on pink autos. So, it is basically symbolic to display those on the vehicle, said a commuter.
The alleged inefficiency of Traffic Police too has resulted in traffic violations and errant driving by the auto drivers. Currently, 210 pink autos ply on the Capital streets and the Commissionerate Police plans to roll out 100 more soon.
The project launched by the Commissionerate Police with hope of checking crimes against women in the city cannot serve its purpose unless the auto-rickshaw drivers mend their ways in dealing with the passengers, opined intellectuals.