Staff Reporter

Seek minimum fare of Rs.15 for a distance of 2 km and Rs.7 per km thereafter

MADURAI: A majority of trade union leaders and consumer activists has favoured fixing of meters for autorickshaws in Madurai.

At an interactive session organised by the city police here on Monday, a large number of autorickshaw drivers welcomed the initiative to re-introduce meters and sought a minimum fare of Rs.15 for a distance of 2 km and Rs.7 per km thereafter.

The enhanced minimum fare was imperative in view of the "steep increase" in fuel prices. The Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic), R. Samuthirapandi, said he would convey their views to the competent authority.

The drivers expressed concern that mini buses and share-autos were violating permit conditions and carrying passengers over and above the permissible limit.

While autorickshaws in Coimbatore were allowed to carry five school children, the number was restricted to three in Madurai. "The Home Secretary had agreed in principle to permit autorickshaws here to carry five school children," the CITU Madurai City Autorickshaw Drivers Union general secretary, R. Deivaraj, said.

He said the fare structure of auto meters should be arrived upon on consensus and implemented by the Regional Transport Authority (RTA) at the district-level. The Government should permit RTAs to issue orders locally.

The Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president, S. Rethinavelu, who spoke on the occasion, said fixing meters for autorickshaws was a long-pending demand of Maduraites. Pre-paid auto system at the railway station would evoke a good response from passengers, he said.

In his address, Mr. Samuthirapandi said a good traffic system was important to boost tourism in any city.

Tourists usually had a tendency to avoid visiting cities with congested roads and traffic snarls. It was the responsibility of every individual to promote tourism.

The Assistant Commissioners of Police (Traffic), N. Sivanandam, and N. Soundararajan, spoke.