Taximen’s unions have opposed the state cabinet’s decision to make it mandatory for new applicants of taxi permits to be fluent in Marathi.
“Do you want taxi drivers to go to school now and study Marathi?’’ asked A. L. Quadros, secretary of the Mumbai Taximen’s Union.
Even the north Indian community—most taxi drivers in Mumbai are from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar--denounced the move. “All should learn Marathi but Mumbai is a cosmopolitan city and such restrictions should not be imposed,” said Mangleshwar Tripathi, president, Uttar Bharatiya Vikas Parishad. He asked north Indian legislators to oppose the move.
The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), which had raked up the issue, welcomed the move saying it will help locals get jobs. “Here we see people from other states plying taxis asking for directions which is absurd,” said MNS legislator Nitin Sardesai.
The Shiv Sena, however, took credit for the decision. “It was our demand. Now it is important that the government implements the rule. We will keep an eye,” spokesperson Subhash Desai said.
The Congress justified the decision calling it “reiteration and reinforcement” of existing rules. “The provision has always been there,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said.
The new conditions—taxis will have to be air-conditioned and have global positioning systems-- indicate that the state wants to promote fleet taxi operators.
“These conditions will be met only by the new fleet taxi services. The idea is to ensure comfortable and reliable services to commuters,’’ said transport department official.
Transport Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil said 1,000 of the new permits would be given only to women. The state’s transport department will make 4,000 permits available every year and charge Rs 1 lakh as processing fees. It will earn Rs 240 crore through these permits.
Net TV to cost more
The state cabinet also decided to bring Internet television or Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) on par with Direct-to-Home telecast and levy a tax of around 20 per cent on the former. So if you have opted for IPTV, you may have to pay more than your monthly fee of Rs 300.