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News Entry# 289147
  
Dec 20 2016 (08:27)  Row between auto and online cab operators continues (www.thehindu.com)
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Commentary/Human InterestSR/Southern  -  

News Entry# 289147     
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Posted by: rdb*^  127193 news posts
31 auto drivers taken into custody for blocking cabs at railway stations
No end seems to be in sight to the ongoing row between autorickshaw and online taxi operators after the police took into custody as many as 31 autorickshaw drivers on charge of blocking online cabs that turned up at Ernakulam Town and Junction railway stations in the early hours of Monday.
All drivers except one were taken into custody from Ernakulam Junction railway station. Soon, autorickshaw operators at both stations went on a flash strike, inconveniencing passengers. They also took out
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a protest march and blocked other autorickshaws.
The drivers who were charged with multiple sections — IPC 143, 147, 149, 341, 323, 294 (b) and 506 — were released on station bail, following which the strike was called off around 12 noon.
‘No exclusive rights’
Top Southern Railway sources said no exclusive rights of operation from stations had been given to either autorickshaws or taxi operators. “In fact, Railways do not even charge parking fee from autorickshaw operators as in the case of taxi operators and hence they had no business stopping online cabs on station premises,” an official said. Railway Protection Force personnel have been deployed round-the-clock at the main portico of the station and prepaid counters. “It is for the civic administration and the police to find a lasting solution to the problem,” he added.
Mayor Soumini Jain, however, said the Corporation had no intention to intervene in the issue yet.
Dedicated space
“Online cab operator Uber is working on an arrangement to have specific pick-up space on station premises, which is likely to be in place very shortly,” a senior company official said.
“We already had discussions with top Railway officials and they were very supportive, emphasising the passengers’ right to choose their transportation mode,” he said.
However, autorickshaw operators are in no mood to relent and have made it clear that they will continue to block online cabs entering railway station and KSRTC bus stand premises.
Trade unions of autorickshaw workers are set to meet the District Collector to put in place a system to resolve the problem.
Call for policy decision
V.V. Praveen, State committee member of Auto Taxi Federation, affiliated to the CITU, has called for a policy decision by the State government on the issue. “Conventional autorickshaws and taxis operate in the State at a rate fixed by the Ramachandran Commission appointed by the government. It must be made applicable to online cabs as well for a level playing field,” he said.
Though Mr. Praveen claimed that Assistant Commissioner of Police Laljy. K had promised to look into their grievances at a meeting, the latter denied to have convened any such meeting.
“They came for the bail of their colleagues and we told them that there was a High Court order permitting the smooth operation of online cabs. Rather than blocking online cabs, we asked them to approach the government for a solution to their problem,” Mr. Laljy said.
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