Autorickshaws and taxis that are yet to convert to or recalibrate electronic meters may soon be taken off city roads, the state government has assured the Bombay high court.
However, as per a status report submitted by the government, the remaining 1,274 taxis and 12,115 autorickshaws that are yet to be recalibrated may no longer ply on city roads owing to reasons that range from non-renewal of permits to seizure of vehicles by financiers, or simply because the vehicle is beyond repair.
Advocate general Darius Khambata submitted that henceforth any vehicle plying without conversion and recalibration will be seized and taken off roads forthwith, since the deadline for recalibration was January 15.
However, those vehicles seized by financiers can still approach the authorities for conversion and recalibration, the state
clarified in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the NGO Mumbai Grahak Panchayat challenging the fare hike based on recommendations made by the Hakim Committee.
Addressing the issue of fixing fares based on the one-man Hakim Committee report, Khambata submitted that a meeting was held in December where suggestions of petitioners and unions had been considered.
Khambata had in December expressed hope that the amount estimated for repairs and maintenance, which the government had scaled down to Rs77,000 from Rs99,000 as fixed by the committee, could be scaled down even further to about Rs. 60,000 that the petitioners had suggested. However, on Friday Khambata told the court that these figures would not change.
He said that the circular issued required taxis and autos to be taken for inspection to see if the money set aside for maintenance is genuinely utilised by the owners of vehicles.
A division bench of justice DY Chandrachud and justice AA Sayed, however, were sceptical about this.
The petitionerv’s lawyer, Uday Warunjikar, pointed out that RTO premises also lacked space and staff to carry out such an exercise, following which justice Chandrachud asked whether the exercise could be outsourced, since outsourcing had made even the process of recalibration faster.
The court has adjourned the hearing till February 15 to address these issues.