Over 69,000 applications have been registered online for autorickshaw permits in just five days since the state opened a lottery system that will pick from bidders for about 32,000 permits in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
The process that began on January 27, 2014 will be open till February 15, 2014 and the numbers are expected to swell. About 37,000 permits are available for applicants in cities and towns elsewhere in the state.
But the online system has been criticised by the Mumbai Autorickshawmen’s Union, which says many people have found it difficult to use the online system. Therefore, Sharad Rao, the union’s leaders has demanded that people should be allowed to apply manually at the respective regional transport offices (RTOs).
The union organised a rally in protest against this on Saturday. It has also demanded that a secret ballot of autorickshaw men be conducted to determine the body that has the maximum membership and that this body be recognised as the sole representative body for a period of five years.
The online application system aims to cut out touts from the process and the transport department is happy at the response. However, it seems that it may also be hurting the influence of the unions who appear to be divided on the matter.
Thampi Kurian, secretary, Mumbai Rickshawmen’s Union, which is the second largest body of auto men, has supported the new initiative. “It is a very good decision by the government as in a single swoop it has eliminated middlemen who would fleece drivers at the RTOs,” Kurian told dna. “Besides, the crowds of auto men at RTOs would inconvenience other motorists.”
Transport department officials said as of Friday a little over 56,000 applications had been approved, of which 16,046 were at the Andheri RTO alone. Thane had approved 10,339 applications and Wadala 8,474. The process is also in progress at some other centres across the state.
A sizeable number of applications have been rejected due to various technicalities like non-payment of fees or anomalies in the qualifications required for the permit.