Autorickshaws still don’t go by meter

New Delhi: Commuters in the city continued to be harassed on Wednesday, as auto drivers refused to ply by meter.

The transport department claimed a crackdown was in progress as did the traffic police. But the results were not spotted on the road. Said a marketing executive for a multinational firm Kajal Kapur, ‘‘The autorickshaw drivers care too hoots for the government’s initiatives.’’ Kapur, who travels extensively by autos to meet clients, said she did not find a single auto driver in the last 10 days willing to charge the metered fare.

The government, however, claims it has impounded over 1,200 autos in the last 10 days for not using meters.

On Wednesday, an autorickshaw driver near Akashvani Bhavan, said he could not go by meter ‘‘as the entire fraternity is not using them’’. He added: ‘‘These meters are fake and slow. They don’t give the correct reading.’’ Another one at Connaught Place said, ‘‘They show a reduced reading if one travels at higher speeds. At low speeds, they show a higher reading. So I prefer to go for a pre-determined fare.’’

Lawyer Vikas Tewari, who commutes by auto to the Tis Hazari courts every day, said auto drivers don’t use fare meters but cite different reasons, such as ‘meters get damaged every second day’, ‘they cannot withstand the bumpy roads’ and ‘the batteries aren’t sufficiently charged’.

Another auto driver, who identified himself as Rajesh (the only driver to give his name), agreed on a fare and did not switch on his electronic meter. But as he reached the busy Dhaula Kuan roundabout on his way from Janakpuri, he promptly turned it on. Said Rajnish Ranjan, a JNU research scholar who was on the autorickshaw, ‘‘It was amazing to see how he behaved as his vehicle approached the policemen at the roundabout.’’

The traffic police, meanwhile, said they have stepped up their drive against overcharging. ‘‘We have started suspending permits and will incarcerate them for 30 days at a stretch,’’ joint commissioner of police (traffic), Maxwell Pereira said. State transport minister Ajay Maken said the department’s enforcement teams had impounded 207 autos on Tuesday.

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