No. of unlawful autos in Maharashtra zooms up 300% since 2013

MUMBAI: The number of in the state has grown by 300% in the past five years, with 4 lakh autos plying without valid permits in and 40,000 of which is in the Mumbai metropolitan region, latest statistics of Union transport ministry reveals.

In Mumbai alone, the number of autos has gone up by 33%, and with the addition of thousands of illegal autos, transport experts fear there could be congestion on roads.

Currently, commuters find it difficult to walk out of railway stations due to scores of autos plying on share auto routes and causing traffic snarls in the vicinity.

The state government is now keen on fighting the menace posed by illegal autos. State transport minister has already stepped in, directing all RTOs to rein in drivers of illegal autos from this week and impose hefty fines.

Raote has also asked the officials to confiscate the illegal autos, wherever possible although RTOs face the problem of parking the impounded vehicles. In 2017, Raote had announced a scheme for those plying without permits to get their autos “regularized”, seek new permits. The scheme that was valid till March 31, received an “unenthusiastic response” and just 210 drivers applied for the new permits, said a senior official from . “This is the reason why we are now cracking a whip on illegal autos,” he added.

Raote wants all illegal vehicles to be off roads as it also poses a risk to passengers. “In case of a mishap involving an illegal auto, the passengers will find it difficult to claim insurance. Several insurance firms were reluctant to settle claims for vehicles that did not have valid permits,” said a transport official. Some activists said that it was a “good sign” as commuters have more choice, specially on feeder routes. However, activist Jagdeep Desai said refusals by auto drivers continued.

Shashank Rao of Mumbai Autorickshawmen’s Union claimed that the rise in the number of autos had brought down refusals to some extent. “When you have more autos on the road, there is stiff competition and a driver will not prefer to refuse passengers,” he said. Some years ago, he had suggested to state transport ministry that there should be two lakh autos in the suburbs.

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