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Auto Rickshaws - Citizen-Friendly or Menace?

Auto Rickshaws - Citizen-Friendly or Menace?, naya haryana, नया हरियाणा

30th June 2014

Naya Haryana

With the population in urban Haryana growing, cheaper and more efficient means of transport have become a pressing demand. According to February 2014 news reports there are about 1.40 lakh auto rickshaws registered in Haryana. Each year between 12,000 and 15,000 more are registered in the state. Government encouragement such as road tax rebates and an extensive accident cover under the Rashtriya Swasthiya Bima Yojana have led more drivers to own and ply auto rickshaws in haryana. Auto rickshaws have also become the preferred means of transport as they easily eliminate the hassle of rickety state buses and are a lot more cost-effective than cabs and taxis. In cities like Sonipat, Panipat, Sirsa, Gurgaon, Yamunanagar, Rohtak, Faridabad, and Karnal, auto rickshaws form the bulk of the traffic. Recently, a number of auto rickshaws of the state went from being fuel powered to battery charged.

Auto rickshaws, while on the one hand are growing eco-friendly, on the other, are growing increasingly hazardous to the citizens. According to 2012 news reports, a major percentage of 15,000 auto rickshaws in Faridabad city are being driven by people without licenses. Most of these drivers lack driving skills apart from proper documentation. In cities such as Gurgaon, auto rickshaw drivers accommodate as many as 7 people in a single rickshaw leading to an increasing number of accidents. In Sirsa, the auto rickshaws have become a regular menace to normal traffic. Apart from reports of misbehaving drivers, the parking of auto rickshaws in major roundabouts and intersections and stopping anywhere to pick up/drop passengers have become major causes for concern. In many of the towns and urban areas of Haryana, auto rickshaws are engaged to ferry school kids. Reports of accidents and road mishaps accentuate the need for a comprehensive system of policing on the roads.

While it is undeniable that rapid urbanization brings with it the need to travel and often; and cheaper, eco-friendly means of transportation are the most sought after. This, however, must not come at the cost of rash driving and recurring road accidents. Indiscriminate flouters of traffic rules often lack driving licenses. Discontinuation of government aid to people who do not possess licenses themselves should be adopted.

Very often, rash driving and road rages by auto drivers do not attract challans or penalties from traffic policemen, whereas the same would attract a heavy fine and reprimand by private car owners. This attitude must change. Auto rickshaws cannot be completely done away with. What can be done by enlisting the help of auto rickshaw drivers associations is that good driving practices and safety norms can be inculcated to make Haryana a safer place.

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