SRINAGAR: These days, the auto-rickshaw owners are concentrating not on bargaining with the commuters over their at-will rates, but on getting digital fare meters installed in their vehicles.
Following the government order that all auto-rickshaws should have certified meters, the owners of the commercial three-wheelers are thronging the Legal Metrology department headquarters here to get the digital meters, purchased from the market, calibrated.
The officials at the department said they have been calibrating and certifying, at least, 25 meters a day, with the rush having only increased in the last about two months.
“There certainly is more rush these days after the government directed the auto-rickshaw drivers operating in the city to have digital meters in their vehicles,” said an official working at the Taxi Metering section of the department.
“In May last year, 290 auto-rickshaws came to us for the purpose. But the final figure for this month is expected to be the double,” he said.
Ahsan Ali Khan, joint controller Legal Metrology department (Kashmir) told Kashmir Reader that the department was “fully equipped” to calibrate these new meters.
He, however, said their job only was to see that the digital meters function according to the set standards.
“For this, we conduct a series of on-road tests on the vehicles to ensure that the commuters don’t have to pay unreasonable amounts,” he said. “Checking the usage of meters is, however, the job of Motor Vehicles department and Traffic Police.”
The meters, he said, were “tampering-proof” with a seal affixed on them to prevent mischief. “The seal must in no case be found broken,” he said.
Bashir Ahmad Bhat, an auto-rickshaw driver who had come to the department, said the authorities appeared serious about the meters.
“They seem committed to ensure that the commuters pay only according to the meters,” he said, complaining that the rates fixed by the government were on the lower side. The government, he said, has set Rs 17 as the charge for the first kilometer of the ride while Rs 13 would be charged for every subsequent kilometer.
“If the rate is increased, we shall have no problem in charging people as per meters,” Bhat said.