Auto drivers to meet transport official over CNG hike

New Delhi, June 17 (IANS) With a Rs.5.70 hike per kg in the price of compressed natural gas (CNG), the city’s 55,000 registered auto drivers are unhappy with no commensurate increase in the auto tariff. They are meeting the city transport commissioner Friday on the matter.

The price of CNG was Wednesday increased from Rs.21.90 to Rs.27.60.

‘We are demanding Rs.20 for the first one km and anything between Rs.6-Rs.8 per km. Also since the time the electronic meters were installed, the waiting time is not charged. So if we have to cover a 10 minute distance and we are stuck in a traffic jam for an hour, we can’t charge for that,’ said Sakhawat Mansoori, general secretary of the auto union, adding that there have been no tariff hikes since 2007.

The auto drivers also said that tariff in Delhi is very low as compared to that in Chennai and Mumbai.

‘In Chennai and Mumbai the tariff is Rs.6 per km and here it is Rs.4.30 per km. Considering the way things are getting expensive, in this scenario the government needs to act fast. If nothing comes out of this meeting then we are thinking of a protest or maybe a strike,’ Suleman, another union member, told IANS.

The auto drivers in the city echoed similar demands, adding that rise in prices of essential items has made things worse for them.

‘We hardly get to save any money, we can’t afford to send our children to good schools as we are left with nothing. We are hoping that something constructive comes out of this meeting,’ said Laxmi Chand Kashyap, who has been driving since the last 25 years.

Talking about auto drivers regularly charging extra money from customers, many of them accepted not adhering to the meter reading, and blamed the low tariff as the reason for them charging more.

‘We know the daily auto commuters face difficulties when an auto driver does not go by the meter. But we are helpless, most of us do not have our own autos and we have to pay the rent (to the owner). Then the CNG prices are shooting up and then we have our families to look after. The few hundreds we make in a day goes for all this,’ said driver Suresh Kumar Sharma, adding that once the tariff is increased the problem of them over charging customers would also end.

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