Not just application-based taxis, the panic button -- a gadget for a commuter to raise an alarm in case of an emergency – may be made mandatory in the black-and-yellow taxis too, claim sources.
In the wake of the Delhi rape incident, in which a driver of Uber, a taxi aggregator company, allegedly raped a woman commuter last December, the Maharashtra government had included panic button to the list of gadgets that are must in taxis. The government has already made it mandatory for fleet and web-app based cabs. Now, the clause has been included in the conditions for issuing a new permit for black-and-yellow taxis. This means the installation of the button will become mandatory, whenever the state issues the order on it.
The regional transport offices (RTO) in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region have started to issue letters, stating the installation of panic button will be mandatory, to 7,843 people, who have won the lottery for the new permits for black-and-yellow taxis.
Under the current system in fleet taxis, when a passenger presses the button in case of distress, an alert is sent to the control room of the taxi operator and the police control rooms.
A senior official of Motor Vehicle Department said there was no mention of the panic button in the terms and conditions for taxi permits, when the government had published the advertisement for the 7,843 taxi permits last year. Taxi unions say they will oppose the move.
“Mumbai is safe city and so there is no need for any such device. Panic buttons are required for tourist cabs and not city cabs that ply in a limited area,” said AL Quadros, veteran taxi union leader.
RTO officials said the installation of panic buttons without a proper monitoring mechanism won’t prove fruitful. “Who will ensure the buttons are in working condition, as every taxis goes through inspection only once in a year,” said a senior RTO official.