SMS helpline to book errant auto drivers

The phone code of the complainant, time and vehicle no. will be automatically recorded; IAC will forward these complaints to RTO


Geetanjali Minhas | November 18, 2011

After authority’s inaction on addressing commuters’ harassment by auto rickshaw and taxi drivers, India Against Corruption has launched a helpline on which citizens can lodge their complaints through SMS.

The software called ‘Whistle’ can receive complaints and collate them. Citizens will have to just send an SMS to the no: 98690 89898 as follows: <complaint type>space<vehicle number>space <nearest rly stn>.

The phone code of the complainant, date, time, vehicle registration no. and nearest railway station will be automatically recorded. IAC will forward these complaints to RTO and seek action.

In capital letters, complainants will have to key in first three letters of the following complaints as per their chosen language, leave  space and key in registration no.(without space in between), leave space and type in first four letters of the closest railway station.

JYADABHADA                                      EXCESSFARE
MANAKIYA                                          REFUSED
NOMETER                                           NOMETER
METERKHARAB                                     FASTMETER   
BADTMEEZI                                         RUDE

Praful Vora, member of IAC asked, “Why are citizens not treated properly with respect by authorities? How long can you take citizens for granted? When the RTO is giving licenses and permissions to auto rickshaw’s why are they not addressing people’s complaints and blackmail by them?

“As the authorities are doing nothing about it we are calling a ‘Satyagraha’. We have launched this software as RTO’s current helpline is outdated. It is mostly engaged and there is no mechanism for complainant to find out status of his complaint. The software has been costly and we must get respect for it. We are meeting the CM tonight and taking up the issue with him.”

He further pointed that BMC’s K West Ward has only three counters where people have to wait for three hours for basic services like payment of water bills, property tax, getting birth and death certificates etc.

Crediting the state government for taking steps for making e meters compulsory, Transport Commissioner, VN More said that with this step, menace of overcharging will greatly reduce. Admitting practical limitations as data on auto rickshaw’s and taxi’s is not assimilated and collated; he said that merely developing the software will not help as problems will need to be addressed.

“We are preparing a roadmap and have formed a technical committee including manufacturers of electronic meters. We will be taking unions on board and decisions on e- meter costs, production, installation, and calibration will be taken and thereafter manufacturers/suppliers will be shortlisted. Systematic improvements with the involvement of all stakeholders in a focused manner will help address this menace,” More said.
Admitting that the issue will project State Transport Department in a very bad light, the transport commissioner said, “Systems have to be put into place with proper checks and balances. 30-40 percent of auto and taxi driver’s addresses are not updated as they only visit the RTO once in a year at the time of renewal of fitness certificate etc.

Mumbai has only three RTO’s for more than one lakh  auto rickshaws and about 44,000 taxis. IAC has been fighting the menace of meter tampering, drivers plying without meter, rude behavior and fare refusal by auto rickshaw drivers for last few months. The government on November 14 vacated its stay on a 2009 order making it mandatory for new auto rickshaw’s to have e-meters. Activists want the   government to expedite installation of e-meters in all auto rickshaw’s in the city as unlike in mechanical meters in an e-meter any tampering can be easily detected.



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