Rigged e-me­ters make a come­back, five auto drivers caught ev­ery week

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES CITY - Somit.Sen@ times­group.com

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.

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