Thursday, January 18, 2018
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Mela time is money-fleecing time for rickshaw walas, taxi drivers, tongas, ekkas and of course tempos. They force higher fares out of the helpless pilgrims. The latter have no choice except to surrender to their black-mail.There is none around to check this malpractice.

Let me first refer to the tempos. They are not supposed to inflate the fare rates. They are carrying this rate list which they show in normal times because these fares have not been approved by RTO. But in Mela even these rates are regarded by them as low , creating enough scope to fleece money. There is no upper limit.   The traffic police does not bother because, as the story goes,  they are shareholders of this loot against which no report is ever filed. Although the inflated portion of the rates can be regarded as clear case of extortion,  similar to goonda tax if one may say so, no one is least bothered. Cops unhesitatingly and shamelessly mount the tempos and do not pay them the fare. No wonder they look the other way round when these tempos overload themselves.  Likewise taxi fares are also hiked arbitrarily. The owners do not know this. The drivers do this on  their own and  pocket  the difference between the fixed rate and the actual money charged. Even then they do roaring business and the owners do not mind. But in case the owner and driver is the same person then he makes plenty of extra money as well. If anyone argues too much they just leave him aside and book another who is only too eager to pay any amount to get out of the soaring crowds. The rickshaw too is no longer a common man’s transport. There was a time when from Coffee House (Civil Lines) to Mayo Hall one would pay just a four-anna bit(25 paise) and the puller would go away happily. Today he will charge you nothing less than Rs50, especially during the rush Mela period. What should be the actual rate is not known to most of the people.

Then there is the question of high speed. The tempos are in great hurry as they wish to make as many trips as possible because the rush is at its peak and tempos are always in short supply. This speed can prove to be dangerous and lead to road accidents.

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Magh Mela 2014

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