Thursday, September 29, 2005

Autorickshaws still without digital meters

Autorickshaws still without digital meters

The Hindu

Deadlines set have lapsed several times

# Many autorickshaws running on adulterated fuel
# Autorickshaw drivers say subsidy by Government on gas-conversion kits is not enough
# Insurance companies not insuring autorickshaws running on LPG

BANGALORE: Two months ago, Food and Civil Supplies Minister H.S. Mahadevappa announced that digital meters will be made mandatory for issuing new autorickshaw permits. But new and old autorickshaws continue to run with old meters, which, many commuters claim, are tampered with.

The Government had also announced plans to help old autorickshaws to change over to digital meters, relatively tamper proof, after giving them reasonable time for the switch over. This was in response to complaints from commuters who felt they were being fleeced.

Bangalore has close to 85,000 autorickshaws but only 80,000 are registered, according to Transport Department records. These official records also reveal that 28,000 autorickshaws now run on LPG, which has been made compulsory as it is a non-polluting fuel. Several deadlines have been given, which have lapsed. But many three-wheelers still run on adulterated fuel.

According to three leading auto drivers' unions, there are barely 12 authorised filling stations which supply LPG to refill cylinders fitted in autorickshaws. The vehicles are required to be fitted only with authorised gas conversion kits and use the specially made gas cylinders which are smaller than those used for cooking in homes.


About the deadline being regularly extended for autorickshaws to change over to LPG, auto drivers' unions point out that the authorised kits now cost close to Rs. 8,000 while the subsidy provided by the Government is only Rs. 2,000. Even this amount is cornered by agencies fitting the gas conversion kits, they say. After Value Added Tax came into force, the cost of the kits has gone up by another Rs. 1,000.

There is also the question of insurance and many insurance companies refuse to consider autorickshaws running on LPG, they say.


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