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Delhi rape fallout: Anguish and fear of losses rile six firms that remain

City’s radio taxi industry calls for self-regulation, plugging loopholes

Written by Aniruddha Ghosal , Dipankar Ghose | New Delhi | Updated: December 9, 2014 10:36:38 am
passeger-l Bus, auto or taxi, women suddenly fear all. (Source: IE photo by Oinam Anand)

City’s radio taxi industry calls for self-regulation, plugging loopholes. With the state Transport department prohibiting operations of private radio taxi services outside the ambit of the Delhi government’s Economy Radio Taxi Scheme in the city, the radio taxi industry admitted that there was an urgent need to introspect and scrutinise the manner in which it was operating.

After a meeting that concluded late Monday, the Transport department prohibited all private radio taxi services, apart from the six registered under the Delhi government’s scheme — Easy cabs, Mega cabs, Meru, Chanson, Yo cabs and Air.

Kunal Lalani, chairman of Mega cabs and president of the Association of Radio Taxis India, stressed on the difference between ‘licensed service providers’ and those that were unregulated. “There is a distinct difference between the radio taxi services which are licensed by the state government and others that are operating without the licence. Under the licence, we must have a 24-hour call centre, along with constant monitoring mechanisms. The cabs are owned by the car company and are fitted with GPS and GPRS, which are monitored by us,” he said.

Lalani said after Saturday’s incident, there was need for the entire industry to introspect. “After this incident, there will be an initial impact on our operations. There will be more checking and licensed players in the industry need to take a long, hard look at themselves and pull up their socks. Moreover, unregulated players need to be brought within the ambit. We have reviewed our own operations and we’re looking to take steps to improve wherever possible,” he added.

With the government’s scheme, the onus of driver verification lay with the registered taxi service, operators said. “Under the present scheme, we have a three-step driver verification process that includes biometric verification, registration of a bank account and obtaining copies of passports or Pan cards. We employ a third party to prepare work area and residential reports of the drivers before hiring them,” Sakshi Vij, executive director, Carzonrent (operates Easy Cab), said.

But Vij added that while the regulated taxi service has played a major role in changing the perception of the industry, the present scenario can inhibit the industry’s growth. “The radio taxi schemes are issued by state governments. But restrictions on the geographical boundaries of the taxi and the regulated tariff structure are a big deterrent for the industry’s growth,” she said.

Siddhartha Pahwa, Group CEO of Meru Cabs, said they employ measures — such as their mobile App that has an ‘ICE’ or ‘In Case of Emergency’ feature, that has a small button which on being pressed triggers an emergency alarm. He added, “Does this guarantee against such incidents – probably not. But these practices make it much less likely compared to all our competitors.”

While sources maintained that the Union Ministry of Home Affairs is considering issuing an advisory to all states to ban cab-booking services like Uber from operating in other cities as well, a number of drivers working for these services in Delhi said that ultimately they are the ones who are the most hard-hit. “Not all of us are rapists. Most of us are just honest men who are looking to make a living and feed our families. I have a daughter in her teens and I live in Delhi. This incident has horrified me as much as any other,” a driver, who drove an Uber cab, said.

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