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Overcharging by private auto drivers in Gurgaon: Who is responsible?
Amongst many problems, the Millennium city faces another problem, which normally does not get the limelight- overcharging by private autos due to the absence of meters in their vehicles. From overcharging to tantrums, Gurgaonites face everything thrown at them by these auto drivers. The city loses some of its pride by some ill deeds carried out by the autowallas here. The problem faced by the locals is much less than the problem faced by people, who come from outside the region as most of the time they do not know the rates for a particular distance in Gurgaon.

The auto drivers give a hard time to the commuters by asking exorbitant sums of money, a task made easy by no meters at all. The passengers are literally forced to accept the condition as they have no other option. On one hand the Delhi government made sure that the auto drivers do not overcharge and hence implemented the meter system but on the other hand the Haryana Government looks clueless as to how to stop this ludicrous behaviour of the auto drivers.

Megha Gupta, working with Ernst and Young, told, ''I travel to Gurgaon daily from Delhi. It is so annoying when, early in the morning, I have to argue with these auto drivers just to reduce the amount to a reasonable one. The auto drivers, without thinking, just ask for any amount, which suits them. I'm still waiting for the time when, Haryana Government wakes up from their slumber and does something for this city and us commuters.''

The passengers are so tired of the auto drivers' ''we do what we wish'' attitude that they simply comply to whatever rates the auto drivers charge, left with very little options. When we talked to a private auto owner, he had another story to tell. Suresh, an auto driver, said, ''What can we do until and unless the Government does something for us? It's not as if we do not want meters. In fact, I am in support of implementing meters in every auto as this will give us an exact amount of money that we can earn from one point to another. Also, the shared auto drivers have a union and we do not so there is no support from any side. Whom should we contact if we face a problem?''

It seems not only the commuters but, the auto drivers, too, are having a hard time due to the absence of meters in the autos. The passengers blame the auto drivers and the auto drivers blame the government. So, whom should one complain about this problem? And when no one knows the root cause of the problem then, how can one find a solution?

On speaking to Gurgaon's Mayor, Vimal Yadav, he had a different explanation for the problem. He said, ''Though the Police Commissioner is very honestly looking into the matter but, still, the police can be blamed for the non-implementation of meters in the auto. The police could have pressurized the Transport Department, Haryana, to get results but nothing was done. What the citizens can do is unite as one and fight against the authorities to end the problem. A powerful public can change the current scenario."

When asked whether the coming state elections are a pressure point for the Government and will the implementation of meters reduce the vote bank, Yadav said that it has nothing to do with the elections and it will benefit the society. Yadav further added, ''Not only the citizens from outside the region are looted by the auto drivers but, the foreigners are also exploited. Where a small trip with auto would cost Rs. 50 or Rs. 60, the auto drivers ask for Rs.400 to Rs. 500 from the foreigners as they are completely unaware of the fare prices.''

Here, we can see three different views by three different people of the same society yet, the problem remains the same. It is not a problem that has just recently popped out in the region but, the Gurgaonites and the people from outside the region have been facing this problem since last four to five years, when private autos were first introduced in the city.

Mangat Ram Bagri, Ward 5 Councilor, who is a responsible citizen and feels for the residents when asked about this particular problem gave an interesting reply, '' The police is not keeping its promises and that is why this problem is never going to end. But, only the police cannot do everything. The people of Gurgaon should take a stand and raise their voice towards this problem. The state elections should not bother the implementation of meters. The auto drivers and the general public, both are precious voters. The installation of meters should not hinder the vote bank. One of the main reasons can also be the corruption in the Government that is slowing down the process."

Trying to understand the lacuna of the system and which department is responsible for installing or implementing this policy, Merinews called up Road Transport Authority (RTA), secretary Manoj Khatri. He clearly denied any knowledge and said that it was not their department and that we must take up the matter with SDO Transport. Promptly, we talked to the concerned person, but it was amusing and exasperating to hear that they were not the correct person to talk to and we must take up the query with RTA Secretary Manoj Khatri. While the authorities are playing shuttlecock with responsibility, it is the commuters who are paying the price- literally.

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