More than 800 traffic policemen will fan out across the city on Wednesday and crack the whip on auto and taxi drivers who refuse to ply.
Responding to the increasing menace of fare refusals, the traffic police have started a drive and have formed 64 special squads, comprising 832 personnel, who will position themselves outside key railway stations.
The drive was prompted by persistent complaints from commuters about fare refusals by auto and taxi drivers, senior traffic police officials said. Commuters said the trend is most rampant outside nodal railway stations and near bus stops, especially during peak hours.
“We also received many complaints from outstation commuters who said auto and taxi drivers outside stations such as Lokmanya Tilak Terminus, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and Bandra Terminus often refuse to ply.
Others complained that drivers refuse to ply by the meter, and demand exorbitant amounts on noticing that the commuter is not from the city,” said a senior official.
Recently, the traffic police started using women traffic personnel as decoy commuters to penalise drivers who refuse fares. During one such drive, held between September 26 and September 29, the traffic police penalised 1,057 auto rickshaw drivers and 637 taxi drivers across the city.
Wednesday’s drive will cover 16 traffic outposts in central Mumbai and the suburbs. Areas such as Mahim, Matunga, Chembur, Ghatkopar, Mulund, Bandra, Vakola, Air por t , Goregaon, Malad, Kandivli and Borivli will be covered.
Traffic officials said in all these areas, at least four squads, each comprising four women constables, eight men constables and one sub inspector, will be deployed to penalise auto and taxi drivers who refuse fares.
“During the drives, a woman constable dressed in plainclothes stops an auto or taxi and if the driver refuses to ply, the male constable stationed nearby immediately penalises him. This will be done on Wednesday too,” said P Dighavkar, deputy commissioner of police (traffic).
These drives will soon be conducted in central and southern parts of the city, said Vivek Phansalkar, joint commissioner of police (traffic) and surprise checks will be held. “Fare refusals are a big menace and we are very serious about cracking down on offenders,” he said.
A harsher punishment may be in store, he said. “I am in touch with the transport commissioner and we are planning cancellation of permits and driver’s licences of repeat offenders.”
At present, the auto drivers licence can be impounded and he can be fined for refusing to ply.