After the order ‘banning e-rickshaws’ the people expect a similar action against the auto-walas to bring some sanity on the roads of the capital. But will that happen?
The High Court order banning e- rickshaws in Delhi has not generated the kind of response that normally such drastic actions elicit basically because they are an organised lot. But commuters who have used this convenient mode of transport certainly feel deprived of an eco- friendly and cheap mode of transport that was faster than the normal humanly driven rickshaws and the over-charging and belligerent auto drivers.
The HC order says that e rickshaws pose a “hazard to other traffic on the roads and citizens.” This order came after the division bench was told by the Delhi Government that e-rickshaws were not legally allowed.
This is surprising because only last month the new Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari had promised to give them a legal status and left the task of regulating them to the local government and the police.
Unfortunately the ban came a day after an e-rickshaw had hit a woman carrying an infant who fell into a Kadahi full of hot sugary syrup. The child died prompting a hue and cry against e- rickshaws instead of the rampant encroachment on the roads by shop-keepers which was responsible for such bizarre accident.
Just compare this to the status of the autos not just in Delhi but all over the country. I know for certain that in Delhi their union is so powerful that even Kiran Bedi who came to be known as Crane Bedi for her strict enforcement of traffic laws was unable to make them fall in line during her tenure as DCP (Traffic). As of now complaints of over-charging, refusal and harassment against them go unattended by the authorities even without Kejriwal backing them.
But what is really shocking is the clout they wield in various States where they are patronised by politicians and the police. In Kanpur, a few years back a new ACP started to book the autos, (they call them Vikrams there) for over-loading and seizing their vehicles.
Within two days policemen in uniform were protesting at the Police Head-Quarters saying that the ACP should be restrained because 80 per cent autos in the city were being run by their own family members or their relatives! The clincher was that the powerful auto union in the city was headed by a Samajwadi Party leader and the over-enthusiastic ACP was shunted out.
I am sure this is the story in other cities of at least UP and Uttarakhand where I have worked as a journalist. One need not go too far. The scene in NOIDA and Ghaziabad, part of the high-profile NCR is no different. The auto-walas park their vehicles right in the middle of the roads to pick and drop passengers, pack them like sardines (at least 12 passengers are fitted like chicken being taken to the Murga Mandi in Gazipur) and jump traffic signals but the cops look the other way.
There can be two explanations for this – either the cops and home-guards are too scared or they are willing accomplices to the chaos on the roads.
By: Amitabh Srivastava
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