Most auto-rickshaw drivers in the national capital openly flout the permit conditions laid down by the Delhi government’s Transport Department, but still go scot free. This exposes people plying on the auto-rickshaws to danger.
Auto-rickshaw drivers are required to wear their uniforms at all times with their public service badge displayed properly. However, neither do they do that, nor do they display the vehicle number and name of the driver inside the vehicle, causing inconvenience mainly to female passengers.
The permit conditions also require vehicles to be equipped with a First Aid box and fire fighting equipment, but all such things are conspicuous by their absence when one takes a ride in an auto-rickshaw in Delhi.
Auto-rickshaw drivers are also bound by permit conditions to ply anywhere within the National Capital Territory and charge only the prescribed government fares, butdrivers generally overcharge commuters or simply refuse to ply.
Nitisha Singh, a student of Delhi University, told The Sunday Guardian how uncomfortable she was made to feel by an auto-rickshaw driver while she was travelling from Connaught Place to Dhaula Kuan.
“The auto driver of the three-wheeler in which I was travelling made lewd gestures at me through his side mirror and I was left shocked. I did not know the number of the vehicle I was in, nor did I know the name of the driver. Had the name and number of the vehicle and its driver been displayed inside, I could have easily called the police for help,” Nitisha Singh said.
Disregard by three wheelers with regard to permit conditions were noticed in almost all three wheelers taken by this correspondent in Delhi.
An auto-rickshaw driver told this correspondent that drivers don’t keep the fire extinguisher and First Aid box given to them by the Transport Department since they get stolen from the vehicle.
Asked about his public service badge and number of the vehicle to be displayed inside the vehicle, he said, “Nobody puts it. You are blaming me for not displaying the number, but there are so many people who do not even wear their uniform and carry more than four to five passengers in their vehicles. Nothing happens here, just pay a small fine and everything gets sorted out.”
A petition before the Saket District Court in Delhi had also been filed by Advocate Mohit Gupta in which the court had pulled up the MLO (Motor Licencing Officer)of the auto-rickshaw unit.
There has only been one MLO for 1.98 lakh autos plying on Delhi roads every day and many say that is the reason for the inaction and lack of fear among the auto-rickshaw drivers.