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Govt-bureaucracy tussle: Six months on, cab regulation rules are stuck in limbo

The five-member committee, set up on January 3, was to look into three major policies — Licensing and Regulation of App-based Cab Aggregator Rules, 2017; App-based AC Bus Service; and the City Taxi Scheme, 2017.

Written by Sourav Roy Barman | New Delhi | Updated: June 5, 2018 2:17:16 am

Rules to regulate app-based taxis and buses in Delhi have been stuck for the last six months, with no directions from a high-powered committee tasked with vetting them. The five-member committee, set up on January 3, was to look into three major policies — Licensing and Regulation of App-based Cab Aggregator Rules, 2017; App-based AC Bus Service; and the City Taxi Scheme, 2017.

It was supposed to submit its recommendations within 10 days. On the committee are PWD Minister Satyendar Jain, Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot, Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash, former principal secretary (finance) S N Sahai and former Dialogue and Development Commission of Delhi vice-chairperson Ashish Khetan.

Initially, the committee held “three to four” meetings, but after the February 19 incident wherein Prakash was allegedly assaulted at the chief minister’s residence, things came to a halt, officials said on condition of anonymity.

Another official also admitted that the standoff has stalled the entire process. The official also pointed out that the departure of Sahai and the resignation of Khetan, whose position remains vacant, have also made the panel’s task difficult. “The minister is the chairman of the committee. There needs to be a push from the government’s end for it to work again,” the official said.

Cab Aggregator rules and the Taxi Scheme were drafted following extensive deliberations with various taxi unions and app-based aggregators such as Ola and Uber last year, a senior official said. The rules have not been made public so far.

However, according to officials, once notified, the app-based services will, for the first time, be brought under law. “Currently they don’t exist in the law books, making it difficult to regulate them, which jeopardises the safety and security of commuters,” said one official.

Under the rules, cab aggregators will be issued licences to operate and they will have to share their data feed with the government, which will monitor them from a centralised control room.

The rules also seek to cap maximum fares, putting an end to surge pricing. The panel is also supposed to take a call on whether cab sharing will be allowed or outlawed. The transport department was in favour of legalising it.

“The cabs will come under the Motor Vehicles Act. The State Transport Authority will have a say over them. In case of any kind of dispute, justice can be ensured,” the official said.

The fate of the app-based bus service also hangs in balance. The government had announced that it will enable people to book seats in AC buses through a mobile application.

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