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Prajakta Chavan, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, October 08, 2012
Even though the state government has approved a hike of Rs. 3 and Rs. 2 for autorickshaws and taxis respectively, commuters should not expect services to improve anytime soon. Union leader have refused to follow the government directive and phase out old vehicles.

Last week, a government notification had asked for phasing of out of taxis and three-wheelers more than 20 and 16 years old respectively, and also outlined a series of measures to improve quality of service.

"In April 2009, the high court had set a 25-year limit for taxis. How can the government suddenly reduce it to 20 years? We will not direct our members to phase out the vehicles. We will challenge the move in high court, if needed," said AL Quadros from Mumbai Taximen's Union.

Quadros also claimed that it was not possible to recalibrate 25,000 e-meters in 45 days.

Auto union leaders said if a vehicle was given a fitness certificate by the transport department, the age didn't matter.

"Our autos undergo annual fitness certification, which is issued only after checking its body condition and whether it is suitable to run on the roads. If the three-wheeler fulfils all conditions, then why should it be phased out?" asked Shashank Rao, assistant general secretary, Mumbai Auto Rickshawmen's Union.

However, this means commuters will have to continue travelling in rickety and shabby vehicle.

"The argument by union leaders is unacceptable. Some of the taxis and autos are 30 years old and in a terrible condition," said consumer activist Sunil Mone, adding, "I am planning to file a complaint with the Competition Commission of India against the union leaders."