A vast majority of autorickshaw drivers has not kept the October 15 deadline for recalibration of meters. Only around 25,000 of the 70,000 city autorickshaws have been subjected to the twin process of meter recalibration and affixation of seals by the RTOs.
A number of factors is said to have contributed to the delay. One, drivers have to get the mechanics as well as Regional Transport Offices to affix seals on the meters. Sources claim while drivers are getting the mechanics to do so, they are not approaching the RTOs to complete this formality because the original documents of their autorickshaws are with money lenders. “The lenders refuse to give the documents unless their dues are settled,” said a transport department official.
“According to the mechanics, around 45,000 auto drivers have recalibrated their meters and have had seals affixed by them. But only around 24,800 drivers have had seals affixed by RTOs,” said a source from the transport department.
Drivers cite shortage of mechanics as one of the reason for the delay in getting the meters recalibrated. There are only 39 mechanics. “Some mechanics are facing a manpower crunch. So, many drivers have started buying new meters,” said J. Seshasayanam, general secretary of the Madras Metro Auto Drivers Association.
Some autorickshaw unions have gone to court seeking an extension in the deadline for recalibrating meters. “We will provide the government with statistics on the number of autorickshaws that have recalibrated their meters and those that have taken the rate cards. The government will decide on giving an extension,” said the source from the transport department.