Autorickshaw drivers in Delhi are holding the city administration to ransom. Nearly one lakh autorickshaw drivers have resorted to arm twisting to get the Delhi government's new City Taxi scheme revoked.
Under the new scheme, four-wheeler services will be available at marginally higher fares than autorickshaws. Taxis will charge Rs 10 per km as opposed to Rs 8.50 per km charged by autorickshaws.
Sources said autorickshaw drivers have been opposing the low-fare taxi scheme as it would be against their interests. They have threatened to go on indefinite strike if the government doesn't agree to their demand.
Lakhs of commuters faced inconvenience on Tuesday as autorickshaws and taxis remained off roads in the Capital. However, sources said the problem is here to stay with no immediate solution in sight.
"If Delhi government doesn't pay heed to our demands, we will announce more strikes. We cannot compromise with the livelihood of drivers as this scheme will snatch their livelihood," said Rajendra Soni, general secretary of Delhi Autorickshaw Sangh and Delhi Pradesh Taxi Union.
The Delhi government, on the other hand, said unions should have discussed the issue with the government before going on strike.
"I have received complaints from some autorickshaw drivers that representatives of unions are not allowing them to run their vehicles. The police should ensure protection for those drivers who want to ply autorickshaws on the roads," Transport Minister Gopal Rai said.
Commuters might be left with fewer options as app-based taxi services Ola and Uber are already engaged in a legal battle with the Delhi government. Ola and Uber taxi drivers have also complained that auto and taxi unions misbehave with them and do not let them operate from railway stations in the Capital.
Moreover, the AAP government had curtailed the special powers of the Delhi Traffic Police to seize vehicles upon the driver's refusal or misbehaviour.