MumbaiThe Maharashtra government has lifted the cap on taxi permits, but unions have complained that their members are finding it difficult to get new cars to use as cabs. This is why the Mumbai Taximen’s Union (MTU), one of the city’s biggest unions of black-and-yellow taxi drivers, has demanded that they be allowed to register private cars up to five years old as taxis.AL Quadros, a veteran leader of the union, wrote to transport secretary Manoj Saunik detailing these demands. He said manufacturers were reluctant to give the unions new models of cars for use as taxis and nationalised banks were unwilling to offer them loans. He added that manufacturers had discontinued the production of popular car models used as cabs such as the Ritz, Santro and Hyundai i-10, which forced drivers to buy expensive cars such Swift Desire and Hyundai Accent, which cost more than Rs6 lakh.The union said the proposal will help the taxi drivers to choose a car of their choice, reducing their financial burden. “It will also help reduce pollution and traffic congestion since no new cars will be added to the roads,” said Quadros.A government nod for this proposal will relieve the taxi drivers, but inconvenience commuters. Several kaali-peelis are in bad shape and more rickety vehicles will be added to the city’s roads if the state approves.“Owing to demonetisation and Ola, Uber and tourist taxis operating illegally, the taxis’ business has been completely wiped out. The taxi operators are not in position to pay installments of Rs10,000 to Rs12,000 to banks, in addition to insurance premiums which are Rs30,000 a year,” Quadros said. He said the move would reduce the demand for new car models, prompting manufacturers to offer them to cabbies. Officials from the transport department said they were skeptical of the union’s claims.Mumbai has more than 56,000 cabs, including blue-silver air conditioned cool cabs. It is one of the most preferred modes of transport, followed by suburban locals, BEST buses and autorickshaws.