Thiruvananthapuram: Autos on a fleecing spree

The state government has hiked the minimum auto fare rates from Rs 20 to Rs 25.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The recent auto fare hike has come as a huge blow to the commuters as the drivers charge more than double the fare in many city routes. The state government has hiked the minimum auto fare rates from Rs 20 to Rs 25.

Recalibration and sealing of revised fare meters are yet to happen. Most drivers have got the permission from the legal metrology department to break the seal of the fare meters to recalibrate revised rates.

S.V. Jithu, a daily commuter, said that the fuel price had come down in the past weeks, but the auto drivers demand more money from us. "I was charged more than double the meter charge for a short distance ride from Nanthancode to Pattom. I had to pay double and Rs 10 extra for the journey. This is so unfair," said Jithu, a techie. "I live just 1.5 km away from Technopark, but I am charged Rs 50. As per the new rates, the minimum charge is just Rs 25," Jithu added.

L.S. Sreelakshmi, another commuter, said that since the announcement of the new rates, the auto drivers had started demanding more money. "We are ready to pay the meter charge. This is like stealing. The authorities should take action or calibrate the meters with the new rate immediately," she added.

An official of the legal metrology department said that the upgradation of auto fare meters will be completed in a time-bound manner. There are around 18,000 autorickshaws in the city corporation limit. "We are recalibrating around 300 autos daily with the limited staff strength. If there are no hartals or other holidays, we will be able to finish the upgradation by March or April. Rate revision happens once in four or five years and we are doing our best," said the official.

Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) South M.K. Zulfikar said that the revised rates will be strictly enforced at all pre-paid counters in the state capital this week. "Upgradation of fare meters is the only way out and we will alert the legal metrology authorities to finish the recalibration procedures as early as possible," said Mr Zulfikar.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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