On a bumpy ride
Is an ‘autocalypse’ staring the City in the face? The news of 40,000-odd more autorickshaws hitting the City roads is making Bangaloreans apprehensive.
They aver that issuing new permits to public transport is any day better than having more private vehicles on roads.
However, commuters feel it will not make a difference. They are worried that they will now have to contend with a new bunch of unruly autowallahs and of course, battle with the increasing pollution level.
Metrolife spoke to the transport authorities, KSPCB, traffic police and people to
understand what trouble these new autos could unleash in an already congested city like ours.
Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic and Safety) M A Saleem points out that the belief that all 40,000 autos would hit the roads at the same time is false.
He says the new permits will be issued in a staggered manner and only about 5,000 new autos may be introduced in a year.
“The new green autos have four-stroke engines and are supposed to cause less pollution. More the autos, more the demand,” he explains.
He points out that autorickshaws are doing a public service unlike the increasing private vehicles that only add to the traffic pile-up.
A senior scientific officer with the air pollution wing of the KSPCB points out that it is difficult to measure pollution levels caused by autos alone but the transport sector, on the whole, contributes to 42 per cent of the total air pollution.
“The only way to reduce air pollution is to reduce the number of vehicles on the road. People must start using public transport,” says the official.
Another option, the official says, would be for autorickshaws to switch over to biofuel. “Fuel adulteration must be checked and monitored at regular intervals. Emphasis must be laid on public transport,” he says.
Transport Commissioner T Shyam Bhat observes that these new permits have been approved and directed by the government.
He says, “Those who go in for the new autos will be given a Rs 15,000 subsidy from the government and for those auto drivers who want to shift from two-stroke to the new four-stroke ones, provision has been made for immediate replacement.” But the
common man is sceptical and sees more trouble in the City.
With buses plying on most stretches in the City and the Metro Rail coming soon, people wonder why there should be more autos in an already crowded City like ours.
Vijesh Nambiar, who runs an advertisement firm, says that more and more people must start travelling by bus. He also feels that the Metro Rail will reduce traffic.
“Autos are the main reason for traffic jams in the City. They don’t get their emission tests done and contribute a great deal to pollution. The roads are peaceful when there is an auto strike. More autos will only mean more chaos and more pollution,” he said.
Baishali Gupta, an English trainer, points out that while the autowallahs may be an
arrogant lot and throw attitude, commuters have a tough time when they aren’t around.
“It’s hard to travel in the City when there’s a strike. But when one auto refuses, you know there are others out there who will agree to ply. So in this context, the move to
introduce more autos in the City is welcome,” she sums up.