City to be classified into different zones; permission to be granted on the basis of space, public requirement

The Tiruchirapalli City Corporation has decided to streamline and regulate autorickshaw stands in the city, a long pending demand of consumer organisations.

The civic body has set in motion a process to regulate and issue permission for autorickshaw stands across the city. The civic body proposes to classify the city into different zones and grant permission for autorickshaw stands depending on the available space and public requirement.

The Corporation has also said that it had not given any permission for autorickshaw stands in the city for any individual organisation. Hence, signboards put up by unions or parties in certain autorickshaw stands should be removed within three days, Corporation Commissioner V.P.Thandapani said in a press release.

Applications are to be invited from autorickshaw drivers for giving approval with specific number of vehicles to be permitted in each stand. Permission will be granted in consultation with the police and transport departments, sources in the Corporation told The Hindu.

The move comes in the wake of a recent directive of the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court to the Corporation to consider a representation from A.Thirupathy, district president of the Tiruchi District DMDK Thozhilalargal Sangam, seeking a direction to the civic body to allow its members to operate from the auto stands in the city.

Though the Corporation in 1999 had approved and notified over 90 auto stands in the city, several unapproved auto stands have mushroomed in the city. Many of them have come to occupy vantage road spaces, posing a traffic hindrance. There have been allegations that some unions are demanding money to allow new autos from their stands at different rates depending on the location.

Mr.Thirupathy, in his petition before the court, said some trade unions have occupied the parking areas (autorickshaw stands) and did not allow any new entrant. Auto drivers at the stands formed groups and did not permit other auto drivers to park their vehicles in the stands. They demanded Rs.30, 000 to Rs.50,000 from the drivers towards charges for parking their vehicles in the stands, he alleged. Though a representation was made to the Corporation, it has not been considered, he added.

The High Court in its order directed the Corporation to consider and pass appropriate orders on the representation of Mr.Thirupathy within four weeks.

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr.Thirupathy and other DMDK office bearers opposed the hegemony of some unions and demanded that any auto driver with valid licence and permits should be allowed to operate from any stand.

Fakruddin Babu, general secretary, CITU Autorickshaw Drivers Union, welcomed the Corporation move to regulate the auto stands but insisted that the existing auto stands be allowed to continue. “We have previously sought approval for 100 new auto stands. We have no objection to removing those hindering traffic and we support regulating the stands,” he said. He, however, denied that the unions were demanding money to admit new autos into the stands. “If an auto driver died, a new entrant could be paying some money to the family to take the place,” he maintained.

Welcoming the Corporation decision, S.Pushpavanam, secretary, Consumer Protection Council, Tamil Nadu, said autos are meant to be on the run and there was no justification for unions or groups to claim jurisdiction over a particular stand. “We have been demanding that the number of auto stands be reduced. It is essential that the auto stands are streamlined and regulated,” he said.