THE Maharashtra government withdrew on Saturday the restriction on the number of kaali peelis (black and yellow taxis) and autorickshaws operating in the city. By this, the state transport department can now issue new permits for the taxis and autorickshaws. Through a clause introduced on November 13, 1997 in the sub-section (3) of Section 74 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988, the Central Government had directed the Maharashtra government to limit the number of taxis and rickshaws operating in Mumbai and other cities, including Thane, Pune, Nagpur, Solapur, Nashik and Aurangabad which saw a fleet size of around two lakh then.
In order to fill up the gap created after many old permits failed to be renewed, the Maharashtra government had announced distribution of 40,000 new permits for autorickshaws in the city. The new directive will help propel the demand of public transport vehicles in the city, officials said.
“The new directive follows the recommendation of a committee set up by the Road Transport Ministry last year to promote the use of public transportation in the city by removing the restriction. This will also encourage commuters, otherwise relying on using private vehicles, to switch to using public transport. Maharashtra would be the first state to follow the committee’s recommendation,” Manoj Saunik, transport secretary, said.
As per the RTO figures, tourist cabs in the city, including Ola and Uber, (55,760) had outnumbered kaali peelis (50,584) in the city till March 2017. Mumbai sees a presence of almost 1 lakh autorickshaws as of now. “This will propel employment for the drivers who wishes to drive a kaali peeli or rickshaw in the city. The directive will also allow unions to enhance their business in the city who otherwise complained of meeting stiff competition from Ola and Uber,” another transport officials said.
“Increase in the number of kaali peelis and rickshaws will mean lesser refusal of rides to the commuters. The increased competition will also encourage drivers to keep better care of their taxis and offer wider transport choices to commuters,” A V Shenoy, transport expert, said.