Metered taxis in Siliguri to replace auto-rickshaws

Metered taxis in Siliguri to replace auto-rickshaws
The announcement by Darjeeling district magistrate Punit Yadav of introducing as many as 1,000 blue-white coloured metered taxis in Siliguri from September in place of auto-rickshaws has caused alarm among auto drivers.
The autos are being phased out as they are causing a high amount of pollution. The 1,400-odd city auto owners in and around town have become panicky after the announcement. Protesting against the decision, Siliguri City Auto Operators’ Welfare Society secretary Nirmal Sarkar said, “City autos help us make both ends meet. We are not going to allow anyone to snatch away our means of survival. We must protest.”
The district transport department will start distributing application forms from next week. It has been decided that town residents will be given preference in the distribution.
 “Let the government impose a ban on city-autos that have become old and are poorly maintained, but not disband new ones and those in good condition,” said Sarkar. “So far the government had done nothing for us. How would taxis ply on the narrow and overcrowded roads of town? Fuel prices have been shooting up while the government has restricted city-auto owners from increasing the fare. We will see how the government tackles these issues with taxis.”
Madan Bhattacharya, a member of the transport board, said, “The government, studied everything in utmost detail and arrived at this decision.” (HS)

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