On the path of change

On the path of change

On the path of change

The roads of Bangalore have been turning a lot greener in the last few months. And it’s not because the tree cover has miraculously increased. The cityscape seems to have accommodated many more ‘green’ autos, pushing the less effective old ones out of the way.

Metrolife talks to a cross-section of people to see how this change has been received.
The state government has been, in fact, offering subsidies to drivers of old autos, who are willing to sell their vehicles for new ones, in order to get them to switch to cleaner fuel.

Despite this, some drivers in the City are reluctant to make the change. M Ratnakar Pai, who has been using the same auto since 1973, says, “From what I know, the new autos cost Rs 1.75 lakh. Why should the ones, who already have autos, pay more
money?”

“The corrupt ministers are pocketing at least Rs 20,000 on each auto’s sale and giving them out without this lease,” he claims, showing the documents certifying that his auto is legally permitted to be on the roads of Bangalore.

His facts are evidently untrue. M Manjunath, president, Adarsha Auto and Taxi Drivers’ Union, explains, “The government is ready to pay Rs 15,000 subsidy to old auto drivers to sell off their dysfunctional, extremely polluting vehicles to purchase new, cleaner ones. We have not made this compulsory by law as the change costs close to Rs 1.4 lakh.” 

“The old permits will be reinstated for their new vehicles and the paperwork to make the change will be minimal. But at the end of the day, it’s a choice they have to make individually,” he adds. 

With all the fuss over going green, is the new auto a more eco-friendly option?
“There is a four-stroke engine used in the new auto, which has lesser emission. The old autos emit a lot of smoke comparatively,” says an operator at RTO North.

For those who have made the switch, it was like a long-term investment being made for an initial large sum of money. “I bought this new auto from Shivajinagar for Rs 1.36 lakh, for which I had to take a loan for Rs 90,000 while the rest was from savings. One also has to pay for the ration card, ID card and guarantee card,” says Prakash G, an auto driver, who has tried both the old and the new.

“The RTO only asked for my driver’s licence, so I didn’t need a transfer permit. I ended up paying Rs 500 as bribe but that was only to get my new permit fast.”

Has Prakash’s earnings gone up because of the change? He laughs, “I used to take home less than Rs 500 a day after cutting the expenses for petrol, food, cigarettes and coffee. Now, I earn minimum Rs 600 a day, which goes up to Rs 1,000 sometimes,” he adds with a genuine smile.

To the common man, these figures won’t make a difference. They will still not want to shell out that extra five or ten rupees charged by the auto driver. And rightly so.
For the drivers, it’ll always be about making ends meet to sustain oneself and one’s
family.

   But for the sake of the City and its environment, hopefully, more drivers will take to the new auto and help keep it clean and green.

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