Ban on new permits welcomed

Our daily earnings are hit by too much of competition: Auto drivers

The crowding of autorickshaws in the City, apart from leading to increased air pollution had hit the autodrivers hard.

As one auto driver Lingegowda put it, “There are just too many autos. Each ride has four autos competing for it. We can hardly make a living. Our earnings have come down drastically.” It is a valid complaint since there are 78,200 autos plying on the roads, with another 1,800 applications pending with the Regional Transport Authority.

One of the biggest problems plaguing the auto industry is the sale of auto permits.

Though the initial intention was that of providing an auto for the underprivileged, to enable them to make a living, the scenario took a convoluted turn with many people playing a part in obtaining a permit.

Each autorickshaw inevitably has a person who has a permit to ply an autorickshaw: An owner, a financier and the driver. A permit sells anywhere from Rs 15,000 to Rs 25,000 and in the case of Lingegowda, it was Rs 45,000 including all the bribe that he had to pay.

Coupled with all the money that has to be paid, the drivers often pledge their licences with the owners just in case they don’t make requisite payments to the vehicle owners, who in turn have to pay the financiers. In Bangalore, there are about 50-60 agents, who deal with the buying and selling of permits, as an exclusive business.

While most of the drivers have expressed happiness about the State’s decision to stop issuing of permits, a fear lingers that they might be eventually phased out of the city. Umesh, another auto driver suspects that an attempt will be made to restrict autos to specific areas outside the city or even to other smaller cities. “They won’t leave us alone.
They will come up with something else to trouble us. Moreover, the business is already bad, with us hardly making any money,” he complained.

Smart cards

Newly introduced smart cards for driving licences and vehicle registration are also expected to address the problem of too many people having a stake in an auto. Vehicle registration papers are never given to the driver of an auto, but with the new rule, it will have to be carried in the vehicle.

An inquiry had been instituted a couple of years ago by the Transport Department, based on complaints about the misuse of the permits, but nothing finally came out of it.

For their part, they have killed two birds with a single stone. Firstly, to cut down on the slow moving vehicle and encourage public transport and secondly, to deal with the complaints about permit transfers by doing away with the system entirely.

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