It’s almost as if the authorities are out to put the catchphrase Maximum City to test. The state government is reportedly almost ready to re-issue over 50,000 lapsed autorickshaw permits for Mumbai and the Mumbai metropolitan region alone.
It’s anybody’s guess how these autos will find an inch of space on the roads, which are already glutted with over 2 lakh autos.
Signalling a thaw in relations between automen’s unions and the government, Thampi Kurien, president of the Mumbai Rickshawmen’s Union, says the state transport department gave several automen’s unions from Mumbai this assurance at a meeting on Wednesday.
The meeting came a day after Sharad Rao, leader of the Mumbai Autorickshawmen’s Union, climbed down on his threat to hold the city to ransom with a 72-hour strike to press members’ demands.
Kurien says two key demands — lapsed permits and fare hike — made up the main agenda of the meeting. The demand for a fare hike has been pending since May 1.
“The state said it is in the final stage of issuing the 90,000 lapsed rickshaw permits in the state, of which 34,500 will be for Mumbai and some 16,000-odd for the Mumbai metropolitan region,” explains Kurien.
Both department officials and union members are said to have been happy with the way the meeting turned out.
On the issue of a fare hike, Kurien says both sides decided on coming up with their own calculations based on a wide range of factors, including the rise in the living index, CNG prices and cost of autos.
The union leader says the issue of a ‘green tax’ of Rs750 to be levied on autos over 15 years old was also sorted out.
Dr SK Sharma, principal secretary, transport department, says the state has taken cognisance of all issues that the unions brought to the table and that their solutions would be devised soon.