After 6 years, Karnataka increases auto-rickshaw permits in Bengaluru by 65%

The state's Transport Department will issue 2.55 lakh permits over 5 years to autos with BS-6 engines and LPG/CNG/electric kits.
Last Updated : 07 July 2024, 15:10 IST

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Bengaluru: Karnataka has increased auto-rickshaw permits in Bengaluru by nearly 65% after more than six years. 

In a notification issued on July 6, the Transport Department cited the city's "unprecedented population growth" for increasing the permits from 1.55 lakh to 2.55 lakh over the next five years. In March 2018, permits were increased from 1.25 lakh to 1.55 lakh for five years. 

"Due to tremendous increase in the floating population of the city, demand for auto-rickshaw permits has increased. Keeping in view these developments and in order to control the menace of air and noise pollution in Bengaluru, it is felt necessary to introduce LPG/CNG auto-rickshaws. To avoid the unnecessary competition for auto-rickshaw permits and to curb the black marketing of auto-rickshaw permits, it is necessary to relax the quota limit fixed for auto-rickshaw permits," the notification stated.  

As per the notification, the new permits will be issued only for green auto-rickshaws fitted with four-stroke Bharat Stage-6 engines, with authorised LPG/CNG/electric kits and digital fare meters. No permits will be granted to existing holders. Applicants must hold a driving licence for for LPG/CNG/electric autos, and submit Aadhaar, voter ID or ration card as proof of address.

 As many as 20,000 permits will be issued every year until 2028. 

The notification was issued two days after the department launched a crackdown on bike taxis following an aggressive protest by auto drivers. 

Auto drivers have violently attacked bike taxi captains, claiming they are taking away their business. 

There is a large gap between auto permits and autos registered in Bengaluru. 

As of May 31, 2024, a total of 3,31,038 passenger autos were registered in Bengaluru. In 2018, the High Court of Karnataka ruled that a prior permit is not required to register an auto at the RTO. 

C Sampath, general secretary of the Adarsha Auto and Taxi Drivers' Union, said existing vehicles should be given priority while issuing permits. 

He acknowledged that many auto drivers operate without the requisite documents and suggested they be given three months to obtain them. He also sought more charging stations for electric autos. 

Satya Arikutharam, an independent mobility expert, called the permit system "archaic" and said the increase in permits would make no sense because electric autos were already exempted from the requirement, as per the guidelines of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. 

He also called for exempting CNG/LPG autos from the permit system, saying they are also eco-friendly. 

According to Arikutharam , the department should focus on strict enforcement of fare meters and let the market forces drive a healthy competition among drivers. 

"Thanks to the ineptitude of the Transport Department, the operations of taxis, auto-rickshaws and bike taxis are all stuck in long-running court litigations," he told DH. 

Bengaluru Urban Deputy Commissioner Dayananda KA, who is the chairman of the Regional Transport Authority, which grants the auto permits, did not respond to phone calls or text messages seeking comment. 

What is the permit system?

* Permits are issued to control the number of passenger autos. 

* A permit costs Rs 750 but is sometimes sold on the black market for as much as Rs 35,000. Drivers also pay Rs 150 annually to the Department of Legal Metrology, which issues the meter slip for the generation of the fitness certificate. 

* The permit is valid for five years and can be transferred. 

* Driving an auto without a permit can attract a fine, imprisonment or both.

Published 07 July 2024, 15:10 IST

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