students working on a project on tampered meters, we asked mechanics to explain the rigging process. While most shops acknowledged that tampering is common, they denied doing it.
We managed to convince one mechanic to give the details. “At least ten drivers come to my shop every day. I fix only ordinary meters, not the digital ones. Those are done in Kalasipalyam. We usually charge Rs 80 to Rs 100 for tampering,” he explained.
HOW METERS ARE TAMPERED
One way to tamper an ordinary meter is by wheel alteration. There are three to four wheellike components in the meter which are rigged according to how fast the pulse should be. The cost for doing this varies with the pulse rate you want. For instance, for a 10-paise jump, the charge could be between Rs 100 and Rs 350. For digital meters, however, it’s Rs 500 for a 10-paise jump and Rs 800 for a 20-paise jump.
“We need to change the rate at which the wheel-like components in three or four places. For the meter to change at 1.5km instead of 2km, we fix an increase of 20 paise per pulse. If you fix 20 paise, you’ll see an increase of Rs 15 to Rs
Ideally, the meter starts ticking over only after the mandatory first 2km. “In kilometre tampering, the meter changes at 1.5 km itself. But the commuter won’t notice the difference. Unless you’re sure about the distance, you cannot identify the quick meter change. When you compare with an untampered meter, you can see the huge difference,” a driver said.
This is the mother of all methods. Drivers admit that once the pulse of a meter is tampered with, then everything is rigged — distance and amount.
WHERE IS IT DONE
Auto repair shops which fix meters are found across the city — from Shivajinagar Broadway area, Mysore Road,
Goripalya, Kalasipalyam, City
Market, among others.
HOW THEY EVADE CHECKS
Auto drivers are well networked and when they see RTO inspections taking place at some place, they inform other drivers and take a detour and avoid the spot.
Strangely, officials at the department of legal metrology don’t seem to be clued in to how easily auto drivers get their meters tampered. Instead, they claim that tampering has decreased. “Tampering has decreased drastically over the past few years because we book a case and refer it to the RTO and take stringent action. You won’t find many autos with tampered meters,” said M Gopalappa, assistant controller, department of legal meterology.
When asked whether they raid places where tampering is done, he said, “Tampering is mostly done by drivers themselves. There are 52 mechanics licensed by the department and they will not tamper,” he added.
There are 25,000 to 30,000 autos with digital meters and 43,000 with ordinary meters. Till March 2010, around 500 cases of tampered meters were booked