A million auto-rickshaws to strike from midnight in Maharashtra

Demanding a crackdown on illegal auto-rickshaws, aggregator services like Ola-Uber, and a steep fare hike, around a million auto-rickshaws all over Maharashtra will launch an indefinite strike from midnight, a top union leader said here on Monday.

“Our main demands are: a crackdown on illegal auto-rickshaws which hits the business of the licensed auto-rickshaws, a ban on Ola-Uber services which flout government regulations besides hampering the three-wheelers” business and a hike in auto fares,” Auto-Rickshaw Chalak Malak Sanghatana Joint Action Committee chief Shashank Rao told .

The other demands comprise implementation of the Hakim Committee Report, a hike of Rs 4-6 per km in the fare, stringent control over issuing new permits, a welfare board for auto-drivers with facilities like provident fund, medical and employees state insurance scheme, he added.

Rao said a majority of the 1.2 million auto-rickshaws and over two million auto-rickshaw owner-or-drivers affiliated to around 300 big and small unions across the state will join the agitation.

The worst-hit shall be Mumbai with around 200,000 auto-rickshaws and nearly 300,000 drivers where millions depend on these three-wheelers daily, besides Thane, Navi Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Aurangabad, Nashik, Latur, Kolhapur and other towns in the state where people also depend hugely on this convenient form of transport.

Rao pointed out that the JAC had already submitted a memorandum, served notices and reminders to the state government on their demands and the proposed agitation with an ultimatum of June 30, but there was absolutely no response.

He warned that the state government will be responsible for any inconvenience caused to the Mumbai commuters and passengers elsewhere in the state owing to the attitude of the officials.

According to Rao, the strike has elicited the voluntary participation of both the owners and drivers of auto-rickshaws in the state.

In Mumbai, besides the lakhs of daily commuters who hop onto auto-rickshaws to railway stations or bus stops for their onward commute, and return, school and college students are likely to be badly hit by the proposed strike.

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