Durgapur-Asansol faces bus strike threat as autos flout norm

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Autos in Durgapur-Asansol continues to take more than the stipulated three passengers

Private bus owners in the twin of Durgapur-Asansol have threatened to take their vehicles off road if the Burdwan administration does no crack down on auto-rickshaws that flout rules by picking up people mid-way despite being allotted pints to pick up and drop passengers.

The bus owners have complained to the district administration and have forwarded to the motor vehicles department and the transport minister saying they were losing out on passengers.

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Autos in Durgapur-Asansol continues to take more than the stipulated three passengers

According to motor vehicle rules, as autos are given contract carriage permit, they can pick up and drop passengers only at the places they have been allotted to do so in their route.

Vehicles that can carry less than eight passengers like autos and taxis are given contract carriage permit. Buses have state permit.

The bus owners also allege that autos were carrying more than the stipulated 3 passengers at a time.

“In Durgapur and Asansol, CNG-run autos were introduced in 20009. They have been given contract carriage permits which bar them from picking up passengers in the middle of the route. But they have started doing just that. Because of this, we have not been getting enough passengers,” said Aloke Chatterjee, the General Secretary of Durgapur’s sub-division minibus operators’ association.

Around 6000 autos and 1000 mini-buses operate in the twin town of Durgapur-Asansol.

The bus associations in the twin towns had in November last year filed a writ petition in the high court. Justice Dipankar Dutta has directed the district administrations to take a legal action against auto operators violating rules.

“We filed a petition in the high court last year and the court directed the administration to take steps against auto operators. But nothing has been done yet. We have repeatedly sent letters along with the court order to the transport minister, transport secretary, Burdwan district magistrate and other administrative officials. The diesel price and other maintenance cost of buses have sought up. We will be forced to stop bus services in Asansol and Durgapur if action is not taken against autos,” Mr. Chatterjee said.

Violating the contract carriage rule is nothing new by autos that are backed by strong unions sources said. In Kolkata, too, autos carry more than stipulated three passengers at a time and pick up and drop people midway.

“Vehicles which can carry more than eight passengers are given state carriage permits and those like taxis and autos which carry less than eight passengers are granted contract carriage permits. Taxis and autos are only allowed to ferry passengers from one point to another. The rule doesn’t allow them to pick up passengers midway. We often conduct raids, but it is difficult to control them,” a senior motor vehicles official said in Durgapur.

Santanu Som, vice president of the INTTUC-backed Durgapur CNG auto operators’ union said they take more passengers as there are not enough autos. “We run autos according to the demand of passengers and we allow them to board or get down midway because of their convenience. If the administration wants to stop this we have no objection,” he said.

The general secretary the INTTUC-backed Asansol Motor Transport Workers’ Union, Raju Ahelwalia, said the practice to violate the rule was started by the CPM. “Unemployed youths purchased autos for their livelihood. We have requested the administration not to give permits to autos in routes where buses ply,” he said.

Transport Minister Madan Mitra said his ministry was not giving fresh permits to autos in Durgapur and Asansol and had taken several steps to control the rough auto drivers in Kolkata.

“I will inquire into the complaint and will definitely take action. The autos are only allowed as contract carriages,” Mitra said.

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