Rigged e-meters make a comeback, five auto drivers caught every week
Mumbai: Five autorickshaw drivers are booked on an average every week for rigged electronic meters in the eastern and western suburbs, according to latest statistics released by the state transport department. Alarmed by the high number of cases, commuter rights activists said this is an indicator that ‘ghoda’ meters are back.
Statistics showed that nearly 2,000 auto drivers were booked for various offences, of which 107 were caught with tampered meters in the past five months.
“When electronic meters were introduced a few years back, we presumed that tampering was not possible. But rogue auto drivers break the seal and rig them too,” said a transport activist, adding, “There is an adaptor or switch, which is hidden anywhere under the driver’s seat or under the steering handle, that is used to control the electronic meter.”
The adaptor manipulates the speed pulse of the autorickshaw and the meter shows it has travelled more distance than actually covered. This inflates reading by at 30-40%, said an auto dely with passengers and overcharging them outside airports.
A Borivli resident said: “Outside Borivli station in the west, autorickshaws ferry five passengers—one sits next to the driver and four in the passenger seat—to Ganpat Patil Nagar and back every day. They are even caught on CCTV cameras, but there has been no police action till date.”
A senior transport official said checks against unscrupulous drivers are conducted regularly. “During our pro-active drive and after responding to complaints, we apprehended 1,991 auto drivers and suspended 355 permits,” he said. Autos that were de-registered by the RTO but still plying on roads were also destroyed, he added.
Sources said the RTO plans to replace e-meters with GPS meters that will automatically calculate fare based on real-time, GPS-enabled distance and waiting time. “It is difficult to tamper GPS meters as they are based on Google maps and will calculate accurate distance travelled, time taken waiting at signals among other factors to compute the final fare,” an official said.