The Delhi High Court has ordered auto-rickshaws in Delhi to compulsorily install GPS and printers in their vehicle (pdf of the court order), as reported by Kafila.org.For the same, Delhi Integrated Multi Modal Transport Systems (DIMTS), a joint operation between IDFC and the NCR government has been authorized to provide auto-rickshaws in Delhi a GPS / GPRS, two way communication device, and a printer for printing of receipt, among other equipment.

Auto-rickshaws in Delhi will have to pay Rs 13,500 upfront for the GPS and printer, according to a report by The Economic Times. However, the court order has permitted auto-rickshaw drivers to charge 50 paise per kilometer built up in the fare itself, which the court says will help recover Rs 7,500 from the cost of equipment installation.

The revised conditions for grant of permit now include:

  • auto rickshaws to be fitted with GPS / GPRS, two way communication device, printer for printing of receipt
  • make the permit holder / driver responsible for keeping the GPS / GPRS and receipt printing device and other equipment so installed in operational condition and to bear the cost of repair / replacement in the event of loss, willful/accidental damage, theft etc.
  • auto rickshaws to be made available for inspection/repair to the vendors, as authorized by DIMTS, within 24 hours of lodging of complaint regarding theft, loss, damage etc.
  • auto rickshaws should installed from DIMTS/authorized vendor a panic button near the passenger sitting area and providing communication with a Central Command Centre set up by the DIMTS and statutory authorities.
  • auto rickshaw driver should issue a receipt of payment of the fare to the customer through the equipment installed.
  • permit holder should bear the cost of paper roll to be utilized in the printing system for issuance of fare receipt and make non issuance of receipt a violation of the permit condition.
  • require all owners/permit holders to deposit an amount of Rs 15,000 per year at the time of fitness
  • all drivers should take the passenger to their destination through the shortest route.

Previously, a number of rickshaw drivers filed a petition against the policy and told the Delhi government that auto owners will not be able to bear the cost of installation of global positioning systems (GPS) in their vehicles as directed by the High Court. 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.

Our take: Installation of GPS and printer on auto rickshaw would benefit the commuters and specially female travelers. Female travelers would feel more safe travelling in auto-rickshaw knowing that the auto-rickshaw is being tracked and the fact that there will be panic button to inform the authorities of any misdoings.

While we applaud the decision to install GPS and printers in the auto-rickshaw, we are skeptical on why the government has asked owners to buy the equipment from a single player. In case the government had chosen more players, the competition could have brought down the cost of installation of those devices, since GPS devices are available in the open market at lower prices.