Special Correspondent

Government indifferent to situation

CHENNAI: A 10-km ride from Adyar to Ashok Nagar cost a passenger Rs.100 by autorickshaw. Another woman employee took an autorickshaw from Velachery to Anna Salai and ended up paying Rs.150.

With practically no supervision or enforcement of tariff rules by both the police and the Transport department, passengers are being forced to pay at least Rs.10 a km since the Rs.4 per litre hike in petrol prices came into effect.

Consumer activists' pleas over the years to the enforcing agencies have elicited little response.

The Madras Auto Passengers Association (MAPA) had recently condemned the unilateral increase of charges by auto drivers by Rs.10 to 20 a trip, citing the increase in petrol and diesel prices.

The increase is only Rs. 4 a litre. If autorickshaws get 30 km a litre, the increase is only 13 paise a km.

"While no one minds paying reasonable auto charges, what is happening in the city is that people are at the mercy of the auto drivers who demand unreasonable and exorbitant charges, taking advantage of the need for travelling by the public. The Government has given up any semblance of regulation and overlooks the extortion by auto drivers," the MAPA president, C. Lakshmi Narain notes.

The problem is mainly due to the Government's indifference in fixing electronic meters that cannot be tampered with despite the orders of Justice P. Sadasivam of the Madras High Court dated 12-7-2002 in a PIL filed by the MAPA.

After fixing non-tamperable meters to the vehicles, the Government can provide a card indicating the rates fixed according to the distance; the cards can be revised whenever petrol prices are changed.