An indefinite auto strike has been going on in Pune for the past four days, bang in the middle of the summer vacations, all over a reduction in fares. Two parties are responsible, the government which has a direct monopoly on roads and therefore on public transport, and militant drivers’ unions. Here’s the interesting part-
Rickshaw drivers operating at the Lohegaon airport prepaid rickshaw booth say they want to operate, but the fear of agitating rickshaw unions has compelled them to remain off the streets. These guys are willing to ply despite the proposed fare cut but dare not do so.
The fear of their vehicles being attacked and possibly being beaten up themselves weighs heavier than their daily earnings. Few auto drivers who defied the strike to ply in Kothrud area on Saturday were beaten up.
Insisting on anonymity, a rickshaw driver there said, “We do consider Baba Adhav as our leader, but we are losing out because of the indefinite strike. Normally, our business is at its peak on weekends but we could make nothing this Saturday and Sunday.
We want to operate but are terrified at the thought of what will happen to us if we defy the strike call. Those on strike would just ransack our rickshaws and we would be attacked.
We would be losing our bread and butter for a long time then. That is what keeps us away from the roads.”
Another interesting case that’s a few days old-
The traffic branch of the Pune police on Friday arrested a driver and booked the owner of a private bus for ferrying passengers from Kolhapur to Pune without a proper permit from the Regional Transport Office (RTO).
Palsule said that around 11 pm on Thursday, a team led by assistant police inspector Anil Patrudkar stopped a bus near Katraj. The words All India permit’ were panted on its windscreen and there were 45 passengers in it.
While drivers are being beaten up by goons, the police is busy catching people who don’t have a “permit.”
All this, and even worse, is a regular occurrence in most cities in India. By controlling everything from hand carts to airplanes, from pathetic lanes to pathetic national highways that run right “through” some of the busiest cities in the world, the government has effectively destroyed the whole transportation infrastructure in the country. We burn the wrong effigy at Dussehra or Navratri or whatever.