With the deadline to fix meters in autorickshaws ending Friday, the Transport Department has tightened its noose on errant drivers and owners.
Transport Commissioner S D Sundaresan told ‘Express’ that the deadline would not be extended and action would be taken against the owners of autos sans meters, under the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Rule.
Stating that the implementation of the order was a regulatory process rather than a punitive one, Sundaresan claimed that 90 per cent of the vehicles plying in Puducherry had meters.
On the next course of action, he said that errant owners and drivers would be issued a ‘check report’ and asked to come for an inspection to the Regional Transport Office, where they would be issued a notice specifying a final date.
The Transport Commissioner said the ongoing process of impounding autos without necessary permits would continue.
There are approximately 3,000 autos plying in Puducherry, of which 800 do not have valid permits.
Meanwhile, Seenuvasan, leader of the CITU-affiliated Auto Drivers and Owners Association told ‘Express’ that 80 per cent of autos had complied with the latest order. He said the association had urged the government to fix the minimum charge at Rs 30 for 1.5 kilometres and Rs 15 for every additional kilometre. He pointed out that with the present fare of Rs 20 for every 2 kilometres and Rs 10 for an additional kilometre, drivers would not be able to make a living.
He further said that the auto drivers and owners were facing problems in getting the meters fixed. “The electronic meters available now are faulty and there are not enough technicians to fix them. Also, the spare parts for connecting the meters have become expensive,” he added. The public, however, have their doubts.
Seetharaman, who commutes regularly by auto, said making meters mandatory would not be of any help as the drivers would never turn them on. “Moreover, who will check if the drivers are charging high?,” he asked.
An auto driver requesting anonymity told ‘Express’ that if they went by the meter fare, they would not be able to make both ends meet.