Auto drivers stage dharna against introduction of four-stroke engine autos

Denouncing a proposal to introduce autorickshaws on the lines of call taxis, auto drivers affiliated to different unions staged a dharna outside the Ravindra Bharati here on Wednesday.

They were up in arms against The Greater Hyderabad Auto Drivers Co-operative Credit Society Ltd., which they alleged was in cahoots with auto makers to introduce four-stroke engine autorickshaws in the city.

“Four-stroke engines were already introduced in Bangalore and Delhi and have failed there. Why are they planning to introduce those autos here?” asked S. Dayanand of AITUC-affiliated Andhra Pradesh Auto Drivers and Workers Federation. Moreover, the auto drivers said they preferred autorickshaws from Bajaj over TVS, which the society is currently offering. Referring to the high maintenance costs involved, Md. Khalid, an auto driver said, “If a gear wire snaps, we can fix it ourselves by buying a wire for about Rs.8. But, as members of this society, we will have to go to the company workshop and buy it at a high cost and shell out extra for labour charges.”

Apprehensions

They expressed apprehensions that with about 1.1 lakh auto rickshaws already plying on the roads, an additional 5,000 would only mean more competition to them and questioned how authorities could issue permits for the new autos when they have been denying them the same for the last four years. “Why have they changed the rules in favour of the society?” A Ravi Shanker of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh questioned.

Refuting allegations of the drivers, R. Hiranaiah, the society's president sought to clarify that it was not the autorickshaw drivers they were competing with. “They do not understand us. Easy Auto is not competitor to them. We are competitors to call taxis,” he said. Easy Auto is the name of the service the society is promoting.

The drivers would be provided with call centre support. “We will also help them get loans for buying the autos. We will also provide a medical health insurance of Rs.1 lakh for the entire family.”

He also said the society is open to providing auto rickshaws from any company.

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