By Sucharita Sen
With technical flaws being a deterrent to the government scheme of installing GPS devices in auto-rickshaws, will it provide better amenities to passengers?
NEW DELHI, January 13: The Delhi Government plans to install Global Positioning System (GPS) devices in new auto-rickshaws in order to ease the problem of extraneous charges and to track auto drivers across the city. However among the newly manufactured 55,000 autos, only 10,000 have GPS devices installed in them, out of which many are not even functional.
The GPS devices in the autos, just like in cabs, come with a printer to provide the passenger with a fare receipt, showing the distance travelled and the amount paid. The GPS and printer, as provided by the government authorities costs the auto operators Rs.13500 upfront. Apart from this, the new autos in which GPS is installed also costs them around Rs.15,000 for the license. Both these costs come despite the availability of GPS devices in the local market for Rs. 7,000 or less.
Delhi Integrated Multi – Modal Transit System Ltd. (DIMTS) asserts its authority for testing, verifying and certifying the GPS systems after their installation in autos. The question that arises here is if some of the GPS devices already installed turn out to be dysfunctional, then will the auto drivers be refunded the amount they have paid for the device as well as for the new auto?
Rakesh, an auto driver says he has suffered a loss of Rs. 18000 as his GPS device does not work and there is no setup for getting it repaired.
The only respite for the auto drivers then is to charge extra from their passengers to meet their financial needs. What should have been a medium to promote secure and transparent travel turns out to be a means to exacerbate the problem of overcharging.
The Secretary of Nyayabhoomi NGO, Mr. Rakesh Aggarwal, confirms the corruption in this scheme by saying that everybody from the GPS manufacturer to the political leaders are making money in the name of GPS, all at the expense of the auto – drivers and the passengers.
The scheme might be a technical solution to the problems of overcharging, but it still leaves the root causes behind such problems untouched.