Special Correspondent

Residents are being “tortured and fleeced” by auto drivers for the last 30 years

In Tamil Nadu, people are being held for ransom

Meters fixed on autorickshaws have become ornamental

COIMBATORE: Autorickshaw unions facing flak from the public for resisting the Rs. 14 meter fare now have a surprise critic – a trade union. The Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) has slammed the autorickshaw drivers and their unions for resisting meter fare and even accused them of harassing the public.

INTUC State president P.L. Subbian said in a statement on Wednesday that the people of Coimbatore had been “tortured and fleeced” by autorickshaw drivers for the last 30 years. Time and again, the district administration had taken some steps to regularise the auto fares. But, their attempts had failed in the face of resistance from the drivers who created law and order problems.

“It is a disgrace that while in the whole of Kerala autorickshaws are run for the fare fixed by the Government, in Tamil Nadu people are held for ransom,” Mr. Subbian said in the statement.

“I have personally known families and old people arriving at Coimbatore [Railway] Junction or at bus stands during late hours or morning hours being cornered by autorickshaw drivers’ cartels. The meters fixed on the autorickshaws have become ornamental,” he said.

Mr. Subbian lamented that it was a matter of regret that the firm steps taken by the District Collector and the transport officials had been brought to a naught by “politicians who have their eyes on vote bank”.

The INTUC leader remarked: “Now the people know how to get relief from the Government – resort to road roko, create law and order problems or burn oneself to death”. Stating that the District Collector’s call to the people to be bold and lodge complaints against fleecing had been defeated, Mr. Subbian wondered when the Government would tame the autorickshaw drivers and solve the long-pending fare problem.

Higher fare demanded

The Hindu Makkal Katchi (Tamizhagam) has demanded Rs.20 as the minimum fare. It also called upon the State Government to provide a job for the wife of G. Kannan who died of burns sustained in the self-immolation he committed allegedly to protest against the Rs. 14 fare.

The organisation said in a statement that the Government should regularise all the autorickshaw stands.