Officials of the Gautam Budh Nagar transport department said that Tuesday was the last day for all autorickshaw drivers in the district to install meters and renew their vehicles’ fitness certificates, and they will soon start levying penalties on errant drivers. Auto drivers in the district, meanwhile, said it was impossible to comply with the directions on such a tight deadline.
On May 13, the department had met representatives of the NCR Auto Union and asked them to comply with the directions within a week or face action.
“The notice period is up and we will start taking action against drivers soon if autos don’t have meters. Our staff has been busy with road safety week and several other activities. However, we can see that autos that come to the regional transport office (RTO) to get fitness certificates have got new metres now. About four or five autos come to the office to get fitness certificates everyday now,” said AK Pandey, assistant regional transport officer, Gautam Budh Nagar.
Officials, however, did not specify when they would start levying the penalty.
Representatives of the NCR Auto Union, however, said they informed the transport department in an unofficial correspondence that it will take about a month to ensure that all autos have meters.
Auto drivers said most of them initiated the process of fixing meters just three days ago and just about 40 autos have been able to get new meters so far. According to data from the regional transport department, there are 17,684 autorickshaws in Gautam Budh Nagar, almost 13,000 of which run on CNG.
“The designated contractor started fixing meters in Sector 53 office only three days ago, and they keep falling short of the device. Around 15 autos can get the meters fixed per day. There are over 17,000 autos in the district. How is it possible for everyone to get the meters so quickly? We have informed the RTO that auto drivers are complying with the orders, but the process will take time,” said Lal Babu, president, NCR Auto Union.
Meanwhile, the NCR Auto Union wrote to the RTO yet again on Monday asking for meter rates to be increased to match increased fuel prices. As of now, autorickshaws are supposed to charge ₹25 as the minimum fare for upto two kilometres, after which ₹8 per kilometre is to be charged. To be sure, rates for meters were fixed in 2015 when CNG cost ₹37 per kg in Uttar Pradesh. Now CNG costs ₹76.17 per kg in the state, but the rates have not been revised accordingly in the last seven years.
The association has demanded that this rate be increased to ₹30 for the first two kilometres, followed by ₹16 per kilometre, ₹1 per minute for waiting and ₹15 extra for large luggage.
NCR Auto Union’s last letter to the transport department. written in September 2021, said that while neighbouring Delhi had revised autorickshaw fares, nothing had been done in Gautam Budh Nagar yet, despite multiple requests. “A similar increase in fare should be allowed in NCR autos of Uttar Pradesh as well,” the letter, a copy of which is with HT, said.
ARTO AK Pandey said that the demand has been forwarded to the state already.