Next time any autorickshaw driver refuses to take you to your destination or overcharges you, all you have to do is dial 26122000 and inform the traffic police.
The Pune Traffic Police on Monday launched a one-month campaign to punish rickshaw drivers who harass passengers by turning them away or demanding higher fare. The police have taken action against 350 such auto drivers in the first two days of the drive.
“We have been receiving several complaints about rogue drivers turning away passengers or charging over and above the fixed fares as per the meter. On Monday, we launched the drive and on its first day we penalised as many as 326 drivers,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Vishwas Pandhare.
As part of the drive, traffic cops or Vahtuk Mitra members approach the authorickshaws posing as civilians and try to hire an auto. If the driver refuses to ply to a certain destination or demand higher fare, then he is penalised on the spot.
“If commuters come across any such auto driver, they should immediately call on 26122000 or 26208225 or send an SMS to these numbers, giving details of the vehicle number along with the time and place of the incident. We will nab the driver as soon as possible and penalise him. We are also going to send the list of such drivers to the RTO so that their licences can be cancelled,” said Pandhare.
Prashant Inamdar, convenor, Pedestrains First, said, “We welcome the initiative. But as the drive is organised for a limited period, it does not have a long-lasting effect.” Inamdar said, traffic police should take action in different areas on a rotational basis. “For instance, if the drive is taken up in Swargate today, another day it should be done in Shivajinagar. This action should be random and sudden to catch auto drivers unawares and should continue throughout the year.” He said the major points for such checks should be ST stands, railway station or key PMPML bus stands.
Home maker Asha Baliga said, “In Pimpri-Chinchwad, autorickshaw drivers brazenly refuse and almost always overcharge. But neither the police nor the RTO does anything against them. Drives are carried out for a short period and then forgotten. Because of this soft approach of the police, autorickshaw drivers have got emboldened and refuse to ply by meters. I wonder whether they are really serious in what they do...” According to officials of the traffic police department, the idea is to help passengers who want to travel short distance or to city outskirts. Auto drivers usually turn away passengers who want to travel for a short distance by meter and instead prefer share passengers to earn more money.
The traffic police are also planning similar drives for reckless two-wheeler and four-wheeler riders.