“It has been made mandatory for all the auto-rickshaws plying in the state to get their fare-meters calibrated bi-annually from the Legal Metrology Department (LMD),” Minister for Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution (CA&PD), Choudhary Zulfkar Ali said while chairing a high-level meeting to review the progress of calibration of fare meters of auto-rickshaws.
The Minister said any defiance of the instructions in this regard will invite punitive action.
He said it has been a common practice of the auto-rickshaws to dupe the innocent public and tourists by charging flat rates arbitrarily. “The tourists are the worst sufferers and the highhandedness of the auto-rickshaw owners has brought bad name to the state as they are charging exorbitant rates even for the destination and routes which are situated in near-by zones or areas”, asserted the Minister and added that strict enforcement in this behalf shall restore the public confidence in the measures being initiated by the present dispensation.
Zulfkar said while most of the auto-rickshaws are abiding by the rules in installing and operating the fare-meters but few black sheep are the trouble mongers. He asked the enforcement agencies and officers to deal firmly with such violators.
He said Jammu and Kashmir is being thronged by the people from across the globe for its splendor and these auto-rickshaw drivers play a key role in carrying the tourists to the places of their interest. He said the tourist potential of the state invariably is linked with this transport medium as it is preferred and considered as cheapest by the public. “The auto-rickshaw facilitates transportation of small groups and individuals along with their bag and baggage and has reached even in those zones and areas where buses are either not allowed or resist from plying owing to congestion and other traffic snarls”, said the Minister.
To monitor the implementation of installation, operation and calibration of fare meters by the auto-rickshaws, the Minister directed for constitution of a Committee, which would be headed by the Transport Commissioner.
Zulfkar also enjoined upon the functionaries of Transport Department to establish a helpline number to help consumers register complaints in case of exorbitant charging of rates by the auto-rickshaws. He said instructions need to be passed on for display of helpline number and driver number and name on every auto-rickshaw for easy identification of defaulters by the consumers.
The Minister also assuaged the taxi drivers, who put forth their problems especially in wake of the auto-rickshaws forming route unionism. He said the matter would be deliberated upon with the concerned agencies for consensus and fair policy.
Among others, Secretary CA&PD Sourabh Bhagat, Transport Commissioner P.A. Khateeb, DIG Traffic and RTO Kashmir were present in the meeting.