December 31, 2013
Transport Department takes steps to ensure better services in Kolkata
Discipline or perish: the government tells rule-breaking auto rickshaw drivers to fall in line by January 7.
`Gundami aar cholbe na (Enough of this rowdyism),” Transport Minister Madan Mitra said on Monday. “You can’t break routes arbitrarily and frame your own rules. The government will not sit back and tolerate all this. Under no condition can autos ply on main thoroughfares.`
The strict step was the result of Chief Minister Ms. Mamata Banerjee’s apparent displeasure at the disregard to traffic rules by auto rickshaw drivers in Kolkata. Sounding off autorickshaw operators to `discipline themselves` by January 7, Mr. Mitra said those found flouting rules would be fined Rs 5,000. His department estimates around 65,000 autos — many of them illegal — ply in the city.
Auto rickshaw drivers often flout the bar on carrying more than four passengers, hiking fares on their own and deciding routes according to convenience. Bulk of the three-wheelers ply on main thoroughfares such as Rashbehari Avenue and Diamond Harbour Road.
The rules set down are:
■ no auto will carry more than four passengers at a time: one on the left alongside the driver and three at the rear
■ no loud music
■ no arbitrary hike in fare
■ no changing routes for their own convenience
■ no driver shall speak on cell phones while driving
■ must avoid main roads
Other than the no-mercy warning, the Transport Minister said the government would introduce vehicles that can seat five or more. `We will issue permits to vehicles such as Tata Magic and mark the routes. The Hazra-Garia route will be the first. Fares will be fixed on the basis of demand.`