Overcrowded autos rule Noida roads as police, transport dept pass the buck

Written by Express news service | Noida | Updated: Sep 11 2014, 15:03pm hrs
A day after a 10-year-old boy died after the auto-rickshaw which was ferrying him back from school overturned, road transport authorities and police held each other accountable, while also blaming the parents, for the mishap.

On Tuesday afternoon, the auto-rickshaw driver, who according to police was tired owing to lack of proper sleep the previous night, was not paying attention and, hence, crashed into a divider. He has been arrested.

We regularly carry out drives to challan errant drivers. We have only around 100 constables and we are doing what we can. But the road transport authority should be asked what they are doing to improve the situation. They have flying squads for the same purpose. How sincerely are they doing the work Besides, parents also have to be careful about how their child is travelling to school. If they see that the driver is overcrowding his vehicle, they must stop him, a police officer said.

He said some parents were forced to send their children to school in such overcrowded vehicles as they cannot afford the fee charged for school buses.

For example, the boy in this case was from a very humble background. I am sure the reason his parents sent him to school in that auto was to save money, he said.

Officers at the road transport office in Noida, while echoing the same sentiment, said one of the main reasons why this problem was persisting was that the arrangement was beneficial for auto-rickshaw drivers and parents alike.

There are around 30,000 commercial vehicles in Noida, of which 5,000 are auto-rickshaws. We have only three squads of 18 people each which are constantly on the move to keep a check on this issue. On an average, 600 passenger vehicles are seized in a month. Once seized, the penalty to free these vehicles can be as high as Rs 9,000, the officer said.

But there a few problems which also keep us from seizing and impounding more vehicles, such as limited space in police stations to keep these vehicles. We are not able to chase and nab these errant drivers. Because if they panic and speed, chances are, they will cause an accident, he said.