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40,000 kaali-peeli cabs in Mumbai may have rigged meters. Here’s why

The Tardeo RTO has not been conducting road tests for recalibration of e-meters, which is mandatory

mumbai Updated: Feb 20, 2018 10:46 IST
Kailash Korde
Kailash Korde
Hindustan Times
Mumbai cabs,e-meters,Tardeo RTO
A large number of the 40,000 metered cabs registered at the Tardeo RTO , which have gone through the e-meter recalibration in 2017, could have rigged meters.(HT File (Representational Image))

A large number of the 40,000 metered cabs registered at the Tardeo regional transport office (RTO), which have gone through the e-meter recalibration in 2017, could have rigged meters, as hardly any of them went through the mandatory road test and subsequent sealing of e-meters – offering a free hand to cabbies to fleece commuters.

Electronic meter of a taxi or an autorickshaw is recalibrated after a fare revision is done. It is valid for two years. New vehicles also have to undergo recalibration at the time of registration. The owner of the vehicle has to recalibrate it and get it tested if he has to open the meter before the end of given duration. In that case, it is mandatory to get the meter tested again so that there is no rigging done by the owner.

For this purpose, an actual road test of the meter on a track at the RTO office is required. According to taxi union leaders, drivers and meter repairers, the Tardeo RTO which has a meter testing track on Sewree-Chembur road starting near Bhakti Park monorail station to Anik Depot, has not been conducting road tests for e-meters for past few months.

Hindustan Times has verified this by visiting the place different times over the past couple of weeks. The Tardeo RTO however insisted that the tests were being conducted.

Tardeo RTO has the most number of registered taxis. Subhash Pedamkar, regional transport officer of Tardeo RTO said, “Instead of one year, now validity of meter test is extended to two years. Hence, less number of vehicles appear for road test at the meter testing track.” Conducted on a 2-km track, the road tests are considered as checks to ensure that time, distance and fare are properly calibrated in e-meters.

It is mandatory as per the Motor Vehicles Act. Last week, a civil engineer from Jogeshwari unearthed the alleged tampering of e-meters in autos after an auto driver charged him an exorbitant fare. Shyam Godha, head of the automobile department at Saboo Sidhik Engineering College, Byculla, associated with meter recalibration for years said road tests are necessary to verify that e-meter is calibrated properly and cannot be bypassed. “Even after bench tests from technical institutes, road tests are absolutely necessary,” he said, adding that e-meters can be tampered with even after the bench test and hence the road test is must.

The question which arises then is how did such a large number of cabbies manage to get the recalibration of their e-meters done without road tests? A union leader who didn’t want to be named said that Rs 800 is all that one needs to get RTO agents to manage everything. A taxi driver, requesting anonymity, said that he recalibrated his e-meter in a day through a repairer for Rs750. “I was not aware about the two years rule,” he said.

First Published: Feb 20, 2018 10:46 IST