The state transport department’s plan to issue 47,000 new autorickshaw permits in Mumbai and the metropolitan region has rolled into a rough stretch, with auto unions criticising the requirement of SSC qualification for a permit.
“Many persons get into the autorickshaw business after failing in their studies and this rule will close the possibility of their owning a vehicle,” Thampi Kurian, secretary of the Mumbai Rickshawmen’s Union, told dna.
The plan is to be announced within a few days and the state transport authority had held discussions with all concerned.
Kurian said this matter was raised with the chief minister. “If this clause is not withdrawn, we will have no option but to the move court,” he said.
The union has pointed out that the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, which applies to all states, stipulates a minimum education of standard VIII for a person applying for a transport licence and therefore this should be retained for permits too.
“Any change would be unfair to thousands of drivers who hope to own an autorickshaw one day and require a permit to do so,” Kurian said.
Dr SK Sharma, principal secretary in the transport department and chairman of the transport authority, explained that the rule only gives preference to applicants who pass the SSC examination and does not debar those who do not possess this basic qualification.
“If we do not get enough of applicants who have passed SSC we can think of accept those who have not cleared the exam also. We will discuss the matter in the department and come to a conclusion that is acceptable to all,” Sharma said.
Manish Chaturvedi, a regular auto user who lives in Bhandup, said it did not matter to him whether the driver has a minimum qualification or not.
“I am not interested in the education of the driver of the autorickshaw. What I would like is that they should not turn down commuters to choose routes that are profitable for them. They should maintain their vehicles properly, keep them clean and be prepared to take passengers even at odd hours,” he said.