In a bid to legalise the illegally plying autorickshaws in the state, the Maharashtra government has asked private rickshaws to come forward and get a state-wide permit. According to a circular, the government has extended the move from seven cities, including Mumbai, to semi-rural and rural areas of Maharashtra.
It will also include the far flung Mumbai suburbs of Kalwa and parts of Thane, where autorickshaws ply without RTO permission.
The RTO has been cracking down on illegal autorickshaws in the city and the state and the current move is being undertaken with a view to bringing illegal autorickshaws under the RTO fold, assuming that they would not like to lose their business and so would go legit. An official said, “This is like an amnesty for those who have illegally driven their vehicles in Mumbai and the state.”
He further added, “Right now, we conduct drives and shut them down. But they pay the penalty amount and get their vehicles back. So the cycle continues.” This move will now allow these privately run or illegal taxi/autorickshaws to become legit by paying the permit fee which ranges from Rs 15, 000 in rural Maharashtra, to `25, 000 in Mumbai.
In a massive drive last year, the RTO had nabbed around 250 illegal autorickshaws in the city. The numbers have only increased since then. Some of these autorickshaws are not illegal but operate under private licenses. “Until now there was no provision for them to come under the rickshaw/taxi scheme, so this move is actually a big deal,” said an official.
This year in July, a similar amnesty policy was offered to autorickshaws and taxis that ply in Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Nagpur, Solapur, Nashik and Aurangabad. In order to provide them with new permits, the state will unfreeze permits that have been with the State Transport Authority since 1997.