With an abrupt end to the AAP government, auto drivers in Delhi still await permits for hassle-free travel across the NCR

The satellite townships of Delhi account for a lot of traffic movement and it is in these areas that commuters expect the auto-rickshaw to play a key role as a public transport. However, policies of successive regimes in Delhi Secretariat, irrespective of their party affiliation, have done little to facilitate the movement of autos beyond the Delhi borders.

Despite constant demands that all auto drivers with proper documents and a badge be given free access to the National Capital Region, all that they got by the end of tenure of former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit was merely an assurance that 5,500 autos would be given permits to cross Delhi. However, the implementation could not come by.

As a lot which explicitly pledged its support and even campaigned for the Aam Aadmi Party, the drivers then pinned their hopes on Arvind Kejriwal when he was sworn in as the new Chief Minister. But during his brief tenure, which came to an abrupt end on February 14, there were no new announcements on increasing the number of NCR permits or even a major mover forward on implementation of Sheila’s announcement. In December last, the then Delhi Transport Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj of the AAP had announced the issuance of 5,500 permits but nothing concrete could be done due to time constraint.

Not a single of those permits was issued in the little over a month that the Capital was ruled by AAP, claim auto rickshaw unions. Particularly worried are those who live in neighbouring areas such as Loni, Bahadurgarh and even Gurgaon and Noida as they miss out on ferrying passengers even on their way back home due to the permit rules.

They also lament the fact that even as they are restricted within the confines of Delhi, autos from Uttar Pradesh have a field run in some parts of Delhi, allegedly with the collusion of the police. Every day hundreds of autos enter Patparganj from Indirapuram, Mayur Vihar from Noida and Shahdara from Loni in Ghaziabad, carrying passengers way above their permissible limits.

Allegations of police personnel charging as much as Rs.5,000 for the entry of a single auto in Delhi from these areas are also made by the auto drivers who now feel to have been left in the lurch.

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