The state transport authority Monday decided to phase out autorickshaws and taxis older than 16 years and 20 years respectively in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). From August 1,the authority will not grant fitness certificates to any taxi or auto older than the stipulated limit.
Taxi and autorickshaw unions have opposed the decision on grounds of financial difficulties.
V N More,state transport commissioner,said,We had been debating about this for a while now. Our aim is to phase out such taxis and autos within a year. We deliberately decided to impose this from August so that auto and taxi drivers get time to upgrade to newer vehicles.
According to the official,the decision is in keeping with the Hakim Committee report,which granted autos and taxis a fare hike of about 35 per cent,but said it should be accompanied with better service. We are linking this to the annual fitness regime of vehicles rather than setting a blanket deadline. We understand that this would also be difficult for drivers, More said.
Anthony Quadros,the general secretary of the Mumbai Taximens Union,said the state government did not consult taxi drivers before taking the decision. Several old Premier Padmini taxis recently switched from mechanical meters to digital. Now,these taxis will be phased out altogether. We should have been given at least two-three years before taking such action, he said.
Quadros said the union will make representation to the Chief Minister,and if the response is not satisfactory,will move High Court.
Shashank Rao,auto union leader,also said the views of auto drivers were not taken into account. The decision will put major financial burden on auto drivers. A new autorickshaw costs about Rs 1.6 lakh. We are considering what steps to take in the matter.
While there are an estimated 20,000 old autorickshaws in MMR,the corresponding number for taxis is about 12,000.