Southern Avenue: The state government on Wednesday came out with a draft autorickshaw policy that aims to bring down the number of illegal three-wheelers plying in and around Calcutta.

The draft policy also calls for a colour code for the autos plying in the area under the jurisdiction of the Regional Transport Authority, which covers the police commissionerates of Calcutta, Howrah, Barrackpore and Bidhannagar.

The other key features of the policy include installing high-security number plates and a curb on playing loud music and plying on routes not mentioned on the permit.

Auto operators have been given a month to send their observations on the draft policy to the transport department.

“The policy will be finalised after considering the objections and suggestions from the operators,” an official of the department said.

“Hopefully, from August 1 we will be able to implement the new auto policy,” transport minister Suvendu Adhikari said at a meeting attended by auto operators, police bosses and transport department officials at Nazrul Mancha on Wednesday.

“Behaviour and actions of a section of auto operators at times leave us in a spot. We face a lot of criticism. At times auto operators decide routes for themselves, affecting the movement of other vehicles. We hope all this will come to an end once the new policy comes into force.”

Since 2012, the state government has set up several committees to address the problems posed by illegal autos. In 2014, then transport minister Madan Mitra had set up a committee tasked with looking into the recommendations of a panel set up in 2012.

In the absence of any effective measures by the government to curb the menace, the number of illegal autos across the city and its adjoining areas has increased exponentially. The operators of the illegal autos enjoy the blessings of unions backed by the Trinamul Congress.

The draft auto policy states that all unauthorised autos plying since January 1, 2015, would be given the opportunity to get regularised by paying fees.

“The illegal autos plying since before that will have to be taken off the roads,” an official said.

The owners of two-stroke autos, which are banned, have to discard their vehicles and seek permission to buy ones with four-stroke engines.

“The immediate focus is on autos plying in and around Calcutta,” transport secretary Alapan Bandyopadhayay said.

“For buying an auto, one has to show a letter of permission from the government to the seller. Any dealer caught selling an auto to someone who does not have the letter will face stringent action. We can’t allow indiscriminate adding of autos on the roads.”

The draft policy specifies the number of permits that would be sanctioned for each of the 475 routes in and around Calcutta – the number varying between 10 and 470, depending on the length and location of the routes.

“We are trying to either draw lines or set up posts in certain pockets to earmark areas for auto stands,” additional police commissioner Vineet Goyal said.



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