Panel to look into demands of auto drivers: CM

After many protests by autorickshaw drivers and owners demanding the establishment of an auto rickshaw driver welfare board in front of Nagpur assembly, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan had recently promised to look into the matter and take necessary steps.

On December 13, Auto Rickshaw Owner Driver Organisation Federation had organised a protest march in Nagpur. Auto drivers from six districts across the state took part in the protest. "Gulabrao Deokar, transport minister, relented to an all stakeholder meeting on December 14 with the chief minister. The meeting lasted for one-and-a-half hours after which the chief minister asked the officials to look into the issues including the establishment of an auto rickshaw driver welfare board," said Nitin Pawar, general secretary of the federation.The demand for an autorickshaw welfare board is not new.

Before the cabinet reshuffle, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil had formed a team that had studied Tamil Nadu's successful implementation of welfare board for its auto rickshaw drivers.

The committee had also submitted a report to the government but after the cabinet reshuffle, the process got stalled. "Labour and transport department have been blaming one another since then for the non-implementation of the scheme," Pawar said.

For the last 15 years, new autorickshaw permits are not being issued in the state. But the population has seen an increase. Pune has a population of above 30 lakh yet the permits given are around 45,000, in the city. The federation also demanded that new permits be issued so that black marketing of the permits can be stopped.

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