Newly-crowned Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is all set to boost the fortunes of auto-rickshaw drivers, who are one of his most loyal supporters and at the same time give passengers bound for Noida and Gurgaon a helping hand.
Passengers commuting across the National Capital Region (NCR) will finally get some respite from harassment by auto-rickshaw drivers with Transport minister Saurabh Bhardwaj announcing plans to issue inter-state permits for 5,500 auto-rickshaws.
“Many face problems while commuting from Delhi to Gurgaon, Noida and other NCR regions. Auto-rickshaws and buses are not available in large numbers and taxis are expensive. So, we have decided to issue 5,500 inter-state permits for auto rickshaws to travel within the NCR. This will be implemented soon,” Bhardwaj said.
These 5,500 auto-rickshaws are part of the 7,000 under the NCR cluster scheme — a project which is stuck in litigation. Bhardwaj said permits for the remaining 1,500 auto-rickshaws will be issued after the case has been settled.
“We are still working on the tariff for such auto-rickshaws as the drivers will also have to pay toll. Auto-rickshaws, which ply in the NCR illegally, often overcharge people. But once they get permits, it will help solve this problem,” he said.
Officials said the auto-rickshaws, which will be issued permits, will operate under the Reciprocal Common Transport Agreement among the governments of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
The permits given to the auto-rickshaw drivers will bear the NCR logo, so that they can be told apart from other auto-rickshaws.
Asked how he would clamp down on the auto-rickshaw mafia, Bhardwaj said the number of auto-rickshaws plying on the road would have to be increased. “We need to add more autos in a phased manner, keeping in mind parameters such as traffic congestion and pollution,’’ he said.
There are 55,000 autos plying in Delhi and another 45,000 were allowed to be given permits after a Supreme Court order.
Bhardwaj said the department was also working on colour coding auto-rickshaws according to zones.
Under the previous government, the Transport department had come out with a scheme under which 1,000 auto-rickshaws, operating in groups of 250, would be driven only by women. The project still has not taken off.
Besides this, 7,000 other auto-rickshaws, in groups of 500, were to be operated by corporates. All these 8,000 autos were to be allowed to ply across the NCR.