Delaying the inevitable


Recently the Delhi High Court has given approval to installation of GPS/GPRS devices in auto rickshaws in the capital, saying it will make commuters safe. Previously, a number of rickshaw drivers filed a petition against the policy citing that the cost of GPS installation is unbearable for them. Auto-rickshaws in Delhi will have to pay Rs 13,500 upfront for the GPS and printer. TheGPS device is selected by the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System Ltd. However, the bench dismissed the petition and stated that the reduced installation cost would put no burden on the petitioners. The bench is also of the opinion that installation of GPS/GPRS would create a proof or evidence of the route taken by the auto rickshaw driver. Furthermore, the court order  has  permitted  auto-rickshaw drivers to charge 50 paise per kilometre built up in the fare itself, which the court says will help recover Rs 7,500 from the cost of equipment installation.

While opposing the GPS installation in autos,  the  auto rikshaw  union  leader stated that the government had made a commitment to install GPS in buses, but it has not been done so far. First, the government should install this system  in  DTC  buses,  then  it  should think of autos and taxis. Amidst  all  this  hoopla  around  GPS installation  in  India,  several  countries across  the  world  have  declared  the installation as a policy mandate. Countries  like Russia, Cuba, USA,  etc. are  at the  verge  of  launching GPS  in public  transport  for  enhanced  travel experience for commuters. Brazil’s National Traffic Council (CONTRAN)  issued  a  new  resolution that  says  all  new  passenger  cars  and trucks  will require telematics  systems like GPS installation by the end of 2011. The  rule  applies  to  vehicles  built  in Brazil  and  those  imported  into  the country. India on the other hand is still skeptical about the feasibility of  the tracking idea and is still, toying with the benefits  of tracking technology. As a result, whenever  it  comes  to  the implementation of the policy, the delay in decision making from the government’s end leaves the suppliers with cold feet.

In  June  2012,  similar  to  Delhi,  Goan tourist taxi owners vehemently opposed  the  GPS  installation  in  the vehicles and the govt. plan to install the device to  prevent fleecing  of tourists and passengers in the state was stalled. In  2010,  Pune  Mahanagar  Parivahan Mahamandal  Limited  (PMPML)  had floated  tender  inviting  agencies  to sponsor GPS for city autos, as PMPML officials  were  aware  that  the  cost  of GPS installation would be unbearable for auto rikshaw drivers. However, in that scenario also no one came forward for the rescue. Now, the question  remains  is  why  a  particular section is so very against theinstallation  of  GPS  in  their  vehicles, even  when  the  Court  has  given  the verdict and shown the way out.  The lack  of  awareness  alone  cannot  be blamed for opposing the GPS installation.  It  is  the  comfort  of  non traceability and tracking which persuades the auto walas to go against the  idea  totally.  Overcharging,  rash driving, taking long routes, etc. fetches the  auto  walas the money they  want and  that  too  without  any  restraints. Sooner all the stakeholders understand that GPS installation in public transport  is  need  of  the  hour  and  is inevitable in every sense, better it will be for India.


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