Tuesday, February 09, 2010

It’s proven: Digital meters can be made to lie

It’s proven: Digital meters can be made to lie
During a check of 2,760 autorickshaws across the city, officials found that digital meters in 51 vehicles had been tampered with
SUCHITH KIDIYOOR


In the last two years, citizens had begun to believe that autorickshaws having digital meters show the correct fare, but a recent drive by legal metrology department revealed that they too can be tampered with.
Assistant Controller (auto and taxi unit) Gopalappa said, “We checked meters of 2,760 autorickshaws across the city and detected 51 cases of tampering of digital meters.”
The findings come as a slap on the faces of transport department officials and the traffic police who had given a ‘tamper-proof’ certificate to digital meters two years ago.
The transport department had mooted digital meters following complaints from commuters that the mechanical meters were being tampered with. Their argument was that, unlike mechanical meters, digital meters are fitted with a software and cannot be manipulated by roadside mechanics. In due course, digital meters were made mandatory for all new autorickshaws.
Initially, it worked. Then, people complained about variations in fares. That is when the legal metrology department, which keeps tab on weights and measures, decided to act. Three months ago, it began checking autos.
An official said, “We learnt that
the pulse rate in digital meters can be altered. But, it is not easy. We suspect the erring drivers of taking the help of technicallyqualified persons to fiddle with the digital meters.”
The department slapped a fine on errant drivers, but the larger issue is that the faith of commuters in digital meters will be shattered.
But, don’t expect a remedy soon because the transport department, which oversees autos in the city, pleads helplessness.
Transport Commissioner Bhaskar Rao said, “As per the rule, digital meters do not come under the purview of the Motor Vehicles Act. But, if and when the legal metrology department recommends, we will take action against errant drivers.”

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