Auto drivers get GPS reprieve

The Delhi Transport Department may give relief to a section of autorickshaw drivers on the issue of installing Global Positioning System devices.

Autorickshaws that are over 13 years old will not need GPS for getting a fitness certificate if a proposal on this issue is accepted, a department official said.

“The other autorickshaws, which are less than 13 years old, will still need a GPS for getting a fitness certificate,” he said.

The ball is now in the court of Chief Secretary S K Srivastava, who has to take a decision on the proposal to give a waiver against installation of GPS units in autorickshaws older than 13 years, he said.

The transport department, in a recent order, decided not to grant fitness certificates to autos without GPS devices, a technology considered as commuter-friendly.

Then autorickshaw drivers’ unions started an agitation complaining about the costly GPS units and sought exemption from installation.

An official said that since April 30, the Burari office of the transport department stopped issuing fitness certificates to autorickshaws without the GPS facility, made mandatory after a direction from the Union Transport Ministry.

“After discussions with autorickshaw unions, we have decided to consider giving relief to vehicles over 13 years old. They will be granted fitness certificates without the GPS unit,” an official said.

The decision has come as a blessing for at least 3,000 autorickshaws that have run for over 13 years. They were forced to go off the road since April 30 along with thousands of other younger autorickshaws that did not have GPS units.

In the normal course, all autorickshaws are required to take a fitness certificate every year. But since many of them did not have GPS units, they were not getting fitness certificates since April 30.

According to the transport department rules, autorickshaws that have run for 15 years are junked and a new permit is issued to its owner to buy a new autorickshaw.

The process of bringing new vehicles to replace old ones is also set to get a boost with two autorickshaw-makers likely to get the nod to set up units to scrap 15-year-old vehicles.

According to senior officials in the transport department, the scrapping of old autorickshaws will be done in the city by two companies that make these three-wheelers.

With an eye on keeping pollution under check, the transport department does not use commercial vehicles older than 15 years.

An official said autorickshaw drivers whose vehicles are in the 15th year may be given an option to surrender their non-GPS fitted vehicles and take no-objection certificates for buying new vehicles with the satellite-based tracking and billing facility.

There are 55,000 old autorickshaws in the city, and 30,000 new autorickshaw permits have been issued in recent times.

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