New Delhi: In an unprecedented swoop against errant auto rickshaws, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government on Friday challaned as many as 475 three-wheelers fleecing commuters or refusing to go to the desired destinations in the city on the eighth day of the odd-even traffic restriction.
The crackdown on auto operators, known to be a strong support base of the AAP, was undertaken by the Delhi transport department for the first time following a series of complaints.
Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai told reporters: "We conducted a special drive against the auto drivers and challaned 475 autos." He said the convenience of the commuters was the prime responsibility of the government and any laxity by anyone "be it auto drivers or cabs aggregators will not be tolerated".
Separately, the transport department booked 285 cars for violating the odd-even restriction.
The action against auto-rickshaws comes after the city government cracked the whip on app-based cab aggregators Ola and Uber for "surge pricing". The government had impounded 68 app-based taxis for over charging commuters earlier in the week.
The day also saw heavy traffic in parts of central and south Delhi and witnessed a surge in the particulate matter pollution levels after two days of consecutive dips.
Braving scorching heat, denizens had a harrowing time negotiating traffic logjams, which prevailed in several parts of the capital city despite the road rationing scheme in place.
"At 11 a.m. I was stuck in bumper to bumper traffic near the Maharani Bagh flyover heading towards Noida," Rashmi, a woman said.
Heavy traffic was also reported from Chirag Delhi to Nehru Place and between Dhaula Kuan to Safdarjung hospital in South Delhi during office hours.
Delhi traffic police too acknowledged that heavy traffic was reported during office hours.
The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, said that particulate matter pollution showed un upward trend.
The PM 2.5 level increased to 93.8 on Friday from the level of 67.8 a day ago, while PM 10 reached to 234.9 from 206, SAFAR said.
Surprisingly, the AAP government's pro-active step against erring autodrivers did not get brick-bats from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh(RSS)-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, workers' union.
"We do not mind the challan of any wrong doer," taxi operator Rajender Soni, who owes allegiance to BMS, said.
However, he said the AAP government has "completely failed" to provide smooth public transport in the capital.
Meanwhile, Rai also announced that in order to encourage private car owners to switch to public transport the city government will soon launch app-based premium bus services in June.
"The prevailing quality and reliability of the bus service in the city has discouraged most private car owners to commute by bus," Rai said.
The second phase of the odd-even scheme began on April 15 and will continue till April 30. The first phase was between January 1 and 15 this year.