Hyderabad: More than one-third of the 94,423 autorickshaws in the city are plying without fitness certificates as required under the Motor Vehicles Act. Half the drivers do not have driving licences.
Motor vehicle inspectors check the condition of the engine, chassis, body, seats, breaks, indicators, steering/handle, pollution levels and other aspects before issuing the certificate. The certificate is denied if these parts are not in good condition.
In 2002, a ban on issuing of new permits and registrations for auto-rickshaws limited the number of autos to 67,000 till 2006. The government later allowed more autorickshaws, and their number now stands at 94,423. A majority of autorickshaws involved in accidents do not have fitness certificates and cases were registered against 190 autorickshaws last year.
Although the Road Transport Authority says about 38,897 autorickshaws are plying without fitness certificates, not enough is being done by either the RTA or the traffic police to detect evaders.
Joint transport commissioner J. Pandurang Naik said the department booked 3,365 autorickshaws last year during special drives for not having fitness certificates and the owners of 3,127 vehicles then got their vehicles tested. The department got Rs 1.24 crore as penalties and tax.
Much more money would flow into RTA coffers if the fitness certificate fee of Rs 400 and a late payment fee of Rs 50 per day at the new levels are enforced. It was found that nearly 50 per cent of autorickshaws out of 38,897 should be paying Rs 50 per day in late payment for at least one year, which would amount to Rs 18,000 per auto.
An autorickshaw driver from Khairatabad who has not applied for a fitness certificate for six years was made to pay Rs 1.03 lakh penalty, apart from the actual fitness certificate fee of Rs 400.
Telangana State Auto Drivers' Association leader A Satthi Reddy said that the cost of a new autorickshaw is Rs 1.45 lakh, and the driver could have bought a new vehicle with the money. He said the association had written to Centre seeking relaxations.
Traffic DCP A.V. Ranganath said that during special drives on auto-rickshaws and school autorickshaws last year, the traffic police seized about 1,000 vehicles.
The shocking statistic that 40 per cent of autorickshaw drivers do not have driving licences, clearly shows how lax is the checking for this vital requirement, particularly when it is found that these drivers are repeatedly breaking traffic rules.
Combined checks are in the offing
The traffic police, RTA and legal metrology departments conduct raids separately against violation of rules by autorickshaw drivers. When schools reopen, the traffic wing holds special drives to check school autorichshaws. The transport department conducts raids when it gets complaints. The legal metrology department checks meters.
When the RTA and traffic police held joint drives last year for a few days, they got good results. So if the three departments organise joint special drives, violations of fitness/permit, meter tampering/without meter and motor vehicle rules can be identified at one time. DCP, Traffic, A.V. Ranganath said that such combined drives are in the offing.