New Delhi: Advertisements displayed on auto-rickshaws have sparked a fight between the national capital’s municipal authority and the drivers who make a living by plying the three-wheeled vehicles.
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) says the auto-rickshaw drivers didn’t seek prior permission as stipulated by the outdoor advertising policy that was introduced in 2008.
“The advertisements are being displayed without payment,” said B.N. Singh, officer on special duty, MCD. “We only demand the permission fee for the ads and nothing more.”
That’s not the case, according to Rakesh Agarwal of Social Change Management (SCM) Pvt. Ltd, which sells the advertising space on the auto-rickshaws and seeks to improve their services.
SCM pays a minimum Rs 1,000 per month to the driver, who also becomes a member of co-contributory micro-pension scheme managed by India Micro Pension Services Pvt. Ltd, which invests the money in the funds of UTI Asset Management Co. Ltd.
“The auto-drivers are unable to avail of the pension scheme or make a decent amount of money,” Agarwal said. “The MCD, under the garb of the outdoor advertising policy is functioning in an arbitrary manner which is adversely affecting the drivers.”
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Apart from the Rs 400 paid as tax by the drivers since 2009 for carrying advertisements, MCD has been demanding excessive penalties, he said.
The refusal to pay this penalty has led MCD to approach clients directly.
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“Instead of sending notices to the auto drivers or Social Change Management they sent it to the client,” Agarwal said. “The client in return has withdrawn the ads and so the drivers do not get their fixed monthly income from these ads.”
A writ petition in September said “fees for permission” or “demand notices” were paid to MCD by SCM rather than individual auto drivers.
Despite the advertisement tax being paid, MCD did not give clearance and demanded double the fee as damages.
SCM has entered into contracts with advertisers and accepted fees from clients for display of advertisements on auto-rickshaws, whose drivers are members of the organisation.
SCM has filed a complaint on behalf of the auto-drivers in the Delhi high court against the MCD demand and sought interim relief to allow the vehicles to carry ads while the matter is decided.