2,500 permits being dished out to fill quota of autos for Kochi

By the end of January, the Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) would have handed out 2,500-odd autorickshaw permits, which will officially top-up the number of autos in the city to the sanctioned permit strength of 4,000.

On Thursday, Ernakulam Regional Transport Officer B.J. Antony said 1,658 city permits have been issued so far – 1,158 from the Ernakulam RTO and another 500 from the Mattancherry sub RTO. Another 274 permits would be issued on Saturday during the launch of the Road Safety Week and 224 more on January 22.

A government order in 1989 set the limit for city permits at 4,000. But, a status check by MVD last year revealed only 1,300 city permits were operational, making the case for a fresh top-up drive.

Owners-cum-drivers were given priority in the allocation of permits in the general as well as reserved categories of women, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and the disabled. A scrutiny of the applications revealed that the number of applications from owners-cum-drivers was enough to fill the city permits up for grabs in the general category. Of the five per cent of the total city permits being reserved for women, only 25 applications were received from drivers who owned their vehicles. Therefore, the Road Transport Authority is thinking of issuing the remaining 100 permits to women applicants who need not be owners of their vehicles.

The Kochi Corporation has sought the State government’s nod for issuing an additional 3,500 city permits over and above the 2,500 permits. “An assessment by the MVD and the police department found that a total of 7,500 city permits would be needed to meet the needs of the growing city and the pending applications for city permits,” said Ernakulam Joint RTO Sadiq Ali.

Mr. Antony scorched fears that doling out more permits would add to traffic congestion. He said these autorickshaws were already on the city roads for hire and would only be regularised.

Trade unions have for long been demanding an increase in the number of city permits to 7,500.

“We have convinced them about the situation and that their demand would be met on receiving approval from the State government,” Mr. Antony said.

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