The report ‘Tough ride continues for administration’ (Sept. 3) candidly analyses the new situation that has emerged after the self-immolation of an auto driver in protest against the minimum fare of Rs. 14 fixed by the district administration. When an identical minimum fare has been accepted in many cities, it is strange that protests persist in Coimbatore alone. As rightly pointed out by the vice-president of Citizens’ Voice Club, the bigness or smallness of the cities have nothing to do with the fixation of the fare. In cities smaller than Coimbatore, like Palakkad and Kozhikode, and in small towns like Thalassery, Quilandy and Badagara, all in Kerala, automen collect only Rs.12 as minimum fare. While automen in Coimbatore demand more and remain idle, those in the other small and big cities remain busy throughout as they collect only the authorised fare.
Coimbatore.Back to square one
The public was happy that the Government with the cooperation of auto drivers and the RTO was able to fix a minimum fare for autos effective September 1. But there has been stiff resistance from the auto drivers and the self-immolation by a driver has made the government relent and postpone the implementation of the fixed rate for three months. Further, a committee has been appointed to go into the whole gamut of the issues raised by the auto drivers and come out with a revised fare for the consideration of the Government. We are now back to the square one.
It seemed that the auto stalemate in Coimbatore would at last be solved. The district authorities took a strong stand and fixed a very reasonable rate structure for auto drivers. However, the auto drivers and their union remained adamant and threatened self-immolation and continuous strike. They understood that the threat of strike would not help them because the citizens of Coimbatore could very well manage without autos for some time. When a similar fare structure was accepted by automen in Chennai and the fare in Bangalore is Rs. 12 for the first two km and Rs. 6 per km thereafter, why not the Coimbatore automen accept the fare? These auto drivers met the minister in Chennai and got the strong stand taken by the district authorities diluted. This clearly indicates that the stalemate will continue indefinitely and the drivers will ultimately extract the fare they have been asking for. This is a setback for the district administration and the citizens of Coimbatore.
K.K. Pudur.End fleecing
No one can deny that for the last 30 and odd years automen of Coimbatore have been systematically fleecing the public. They squeeze money from two or three rail/bus paasengers in the morning and spend a merry day idling in the stands. What the automen in Bangalore, Mumbai, Kozhikode, Kochi and Ahmedabad earn in a day by continuously running their vehicles the whole day the Coimbatore automen make in two hours. The difficulties cited by the Coimbatore automen are also faced by their counterparts everywhere.
New Thillai Nagar.Take action
It is high time the district administration, the transport department and the police took action before auto drivers took Coimbatore to ransom. Meter is non-existent in autos here. What prevents the authorities to take stern action against the law-breaking automen?