Mangaluru: Advocate Dayanath Kotian-the working president of Forum For Justice (R) addressing the media persons during a press meet held at Mangalore Press Club said, ” Even when the petrol price has come down to Rs 60.88 per litre (from Rs 63.58 earlier) in Mangaluru, and also the price of LPG has been reduced, why are the auto drivers making a fuss not to agree for the minimum fare of Rs 20 set by DC and RTO. The attitude of the auto-drivers in this regard is not tolerated by the Forum. We have already sent SMSs to political leaders, and the public to join in our fight to make Rs 20 as minimum auto fare, and not Rs 25 that is demanded by the auto drivers”.
Kotian further said, ” We are actually paying more here than many other places in the state, like in some areas the minimum auto-rickshaw fare is between Rs 16-Rs 17. So why should we be paying here more to autos? Even Rs 20 is more than enough for the auto-drivers to have profit-they still can save about Rs 17, after all expenses, out of Rs 20 fare. So why are they still whining and stubborn saying that they are not happy with Rs 20 fare, but want Rs 25 as fixed minimum fare. Government and district authorities should not budge to their demands, because auto drivers don’t control/run the government nor any other departments”.
“The auto drivers should also know that by agreeing to Rs 20, there are chances they could get more customers, because customers are ready to pay Rs 20 rather than Rs 25 even for a short ride. Rs 25 makes a lot of difference, as per mentality of customers. If our local auto-drivers are not ready to accept the Rs 20 fare deal, we will urge the district authorities to give permit to autos from rural areas to operate in Mangaluru, and serve the purpose of the commuters. We have already contacted many rural auto drivers, and they are ready to accept our offer’ added Kotian.
“Members of Forum For Justice alone can’t fight for justice on this issue, we need the support of the public, including youngsters/students in making the auto-drivers change their attitude/decision and agree for Rs 20 as minimum fare, thereby avoid further protests and inconveniences to the public. DC and RTA should stick to their decisions and not oblige to the demands of the auto-drivers. Government should also intervene in this issue and come to a strong conclusion without further delay” urged Kotian.
Another issue that Dayanath Kotian raised during the press meet was that even in spite of the new garbage system that has been in force, there has been still lots of garbage scattered at many areas in the city. What is the use of spending nearly Rs 17 crores a year on the new garbage disposal system, when garbage is still not collected in many areas, and is seen piled up, questioned Kotian. ” I think lack of communication and planning between the city authorities and the waste management company has led to all these slow progress. Someone is making money somewhere out of this new waste disposal system. We need to form Ward Committees for the smooth operation of this new garbage disposal system, for which the Forum will very soon take action and will do the needful”.
Praveenchandra Jain (General secretary), Vasudev Boloor (Vice President), B R Sadashiva (Treasurer), K Ravindranath (Jt Secretary) and Padmanabh Ullal of FFJ were also present during the meet.
My Perspective on both the issues:
The conflict between auto drivers and commuters has always been of concern, especially when the fares are hiked or there is a fare difference after travel. Now that the auto-drivers are not agreeing to come down to Rs 20 which has been fixed by DC and RTA had led to them to stage a few protests and still they are not ready to come down with the fares from Rs 25 to Rs 20. When the fare is hiked due to gas price increase, the hike maybe good news for auto drivers and bad news for commuters, but we agree that it’s not good for the nerves. Haggling and bad behaviour is every commuter’s and auto driver’s nightmare. Can peace, then, be restored? I guess not, unless and until someone comes up with a good solution- if not a travel in a auto would be a nightmare for commuters on some given day.
Yes, the auto-drivers are complaining that the restaurant/hotel rates have increased, prices of other commodities have increased, prices of alcohol/cigarettes gone up etc etc- but the auto-drivers are not the only ones bearing the brunt of price rises- even a common hard-working man earning a low income has to bear with the sky-rocketing prices of various things/commodities. So why excuse only auto-drivers when it comes to earning and spending?
How about auto-drivers stationed at Kankanady Railway Station charging commuters way over the limit- I usually when I get down at this station and hire a auto from here to my house in Kadri, I have to pay around Rs 175-Rs 200. There is no other option, but to pay this auto-rajas what they demand. they have all kinds of excuses/reasons to tell us for why they are charging more- which sometimes is very hard to believe. How about some auto-drivers who hesitate to take elderly folks when they are really in need of transportation. Sometimes when you are late and want to get to your destination, chances are that many a times the auto driver won’t oblige you- they have their own priorities. How rude they could be?
One commuter had a different view on the auto-drivers, saying, ” A generalised view that all auto drivers are bad is dangerous. We must take into account that there’s no dignity of labour for them. According to them, they are self-employed entrepreneurs. In effect, they are public servants. Every public servant is trained, but auto drivers are not given any training. They have health problems and no social security. If we consider their problems, we can reach out to them. If we treat them well and respect them, they too will respect us”. That’s too, but majority of the auto-drivers are rude and bad mannered. Other day when they were on strike, and the roads were deserted not having many autos plying, many commuters did not empathize with the protesting auto-drivers. The auto-drivers lack support from the public for their behaviour- so they better be careful with their attitude and decisions.
One student says that it is not the fares that are a problem, but “the attitude. We have faced some unpleasant experiences where auto drivers have taken us for a ride and tampered with metres. So we get on the defensive. For many commuters taking an auto, their day usually starts and ends with spats with auto drivers. Mostly because they would demand excess fare. And if you bargain they would either start arguing or refuse to ply. So the city authorities have to come up with a solution so that auto-drivers behave well with their customers. And regarding the Rs 20 fare as fixed by DC and RTA should be enforced strictly without any consideration made towards auto-drivers demands.
Now coming to the garbage issue- I don’t think we see any major changes than we had last month. Even though the City has hired a company from Mumbai to handle the waste disposal at a whopping cost of nearly Rs 17 crore a year, we still see piles of garbage at every nook and corner of the city. So what good is it to have a new garbage disposal system when the the thrash is still scattered on streets. I was passing by the posh Falnir Road area, there were few spots with garbage piled up, and stinking so bad- and the bad part is that Unity Health Complex is located at a few distance, and also many physicians offices were also located near by the stinky thrash.
With the new waste disposal contract, the thrash was suppose to be transported in modified compact trucks- then why are we still seeing some of the old-styled open lorries hauling waste from the City to the compost plant at Pachchanady, near Vamanjoor. Why wasn’t proper planning done even before the new system came into force. The MCC should have informed about the new waste disposal system to the residents through publications/fliers etc. Another joke is that although a complaint number (0824-4232666) has been set up by MCC, it is learnt that many a times no one is answering the call-how nice? It is advisable that the MCC takes some quick steps in rectifying this issue, because its the tax payers money that’s going to be wasted if the new garbage disposal system doesn’t serve the purpose. Let’s hope for the best!