Welfare board for autodrivers, owners soon: Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis

Mumbai: Auto rickshaw owners and drivers on Tuesday got only assurances from the State, but they chose to trust the government for the next few days. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that the state government was positive about resolving the grievances of autorickshaw owners and drivers, and a welfare board will soon be set up for them.

Transport minister Diwakar Raote, who was expected to attend this meeting, chose to skip it with the delegation of auto unions and joint action committee of auto rickshaw owners and drivers led by Shashank Rao. The unions had given a call for a state-wide strike from Tuesday, but it was called off on Monday night after Fadnavis invited them for talks.

The chief minister said a joint committee of government representatives and the unions would discuss nitty-gritty of the welfare board and schemes to be rolled out for drivers and owners within seven days. Fadnavis also assured them that the board would get a substantial budgetary allocation.

After receiving recommendations of the committee, the board will be set up, he added. Rao told reporters later that Fadnavis also promised that legal action would be taken against taxi services which are plying illegally. Rao said that the meeting was fruitful and he was satisfied with the CM’s assurances..

“We were making these demands to Transport Minister Diwakar Raote for the last two years. But nothing positive came out of it. For the first time, we met CM Fadnavis for these issues and we want to trust him for at least next few days,” Rao said while justifying calling off the strike.

Rao indirectly criticised Raote for inept handling of their problems and issues of 30,000 illegal autos plying in Mumbai. The BJP-Shiv Sena government had announced in the February 2018 Budget that it will set up a welfare board for auto rickshaw owners and drivers. But even after one and half years, there was no progress.

When asked how he can trust the CM who failed to fulfill his own budget promise in the last one-and-a-half year, Rao failed to satisfy the media with his answer.

No word on fare hike

Rao and his delegation failed to get any promise on fare hike despite the diesel and petrol prices are hiked. Rao demanded that fare should be revised as per the Hakim Committee recommendation. “The fares should be revised as per Consumer Price Index,” he demanded.

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