CHENNAI: Around 300-400 auto drivers at the pre-paid booth at Chennai Central were taken aback after they were told by officials on Tuesday that their cabin, constructed at a cost of Rs.5 lakh, would be demolished.
“We were not given prior intimation on this. According to a rough plan we obtained, there is no need for demolishing our booth. Autos would be exiting from the front-side of the booth according to the plan,” said Siva, the head of the auto union at the station. The demolition plan had triggered suspicion among the drivers that the space was being cleared to make way for private taxi operators, Siva added.
An official of Southern Railways told Express that it had been planned to ‘shift’ the booth to the Poonamalee High Road side. On Tuesday afternoon, a makeshift cabin was put up near the existing one. Auto drivers were worried as they felt that the temporary structure would also be removed. “The officials have not given us a written communication regarding this,” Siva said.
Currently, half of the `3 commission charged from every commuter by the pre-paid booth is remitted to Southern Railways. On an average, around `1,500 is being remitted to the Railways from the stand. However, the Railways bears the electricity and house-keeping charges for the space, the railway official said.