For the past few years, consumer activists have been fighting against the Hakim committee’s recommendations, claiming that the parameters considered for the fare hike were faulty.
Giving teeth to the activists’ claims, and much to the anger of auto and taxi unions, the government on Thursday announced its decision to replace the panel.
Sources in the transport department said the new three-member committee will reconsider all parameters that the Hakim panel took into account.
Apart from fuel, other factors such as insurance and living cost were responsible for the steep hike.
Activists and transport department officials claim that even if the same parameters are considered by the new committee, the rise in tariff will not be very steep.
“The Hakim panel has a done lot of work to derive the formula. But there is always scope for improvement,” said a source.
Source claim the Mumbai Grahak Panchayat recently wrote to the transport minister, following which the government started to think about scrapping the panel.
The group had challenged the report in the high court and had pointed out various deficiencies in the formula. Varsha Raut, advocate for Mumbai Grahak Panchayat, said, “We have legally, socially, technically and statistically proved that the report was faulty and the transport minister upheld our stand.”
Transport expert AV Shenoy said there was no public audit on the formula. “The state government should consider having some quasi-judicial body or authority such as MERC or TRAI to keep check on the tariff of all public transport bodies,” he said.
Taxi and autorickshaw unions slammed the decision, terming it unilateral and unjustified. “It’s unfortunate that the government scrapped the committee after accepting its report. The committee had a tenure of 10 years,” said AL Quadros, taxi union leader.
Shashank Rao, leader of Mumbai Autorickshawmen’s Union, said, “We were not taken into confidence. We are against the decision.”