Maharashtra likely to authorise 1.56 lakh unauthorised autorickshaws

Mumbai: The Maharashtra state transport department plans to authorise 1.56 lakh unauthorised autorickshaws in the state and frame a policy to regulate smartphone application-based taxi services like OLA and Uber before the monsoon session of the state Legislature.

"The central government is in the process of issuing an advisory on smartphone application-based taxi services. Once we receive it, we will also make a policy to regulate such taxi services the way black and yellow cabs are regulated.

This will then be incorporated in the Transport Act which will be tabled during the monsoon session of the Maharashtra state legislature," state transport minister Diwakar Raote told reporters here today.

In the wake of a strike announced by autorickshaw and taxi unions on June 17, Raote said that they have sought permission to present their views before a three-member panel set up to decide on autorickshaw and taxi fare hikes.

"They are ready to accept any decision on fares taken by the three-member committee," Raote said. Maharashtra State Transport Commissioner Sonia Sethi said that unions have three major demands.

"First, they want us to take action against autos which do not follow rules. We have taken action against 1,275 taxis and 3,760 autoricksaws for illegal transportation, having no authorised documents, having no pollution under control (PUC) certificates, as well as those which deny service to commuters," she said.

Sethi said that the transport department has earned Rs 7,34,300 as fines during a special drive conducted in Mumbai, Thane, Pune and Panvel regional transport offices between June 1 and June 15.

"Out of these, Rs 7,13,200 was collected from taxis and Rs 21,100 was collected from autorickshaws," she said. Sethi said that unions have urged the department to distribute licenses to autorickshaws and taxis, which she said, is being considered.

Raote said that the Maharashtra government is considering authorisation of licenses registered as "unauthorised", in regional transport office records. When asked about the number of licenses, Raote said, "There are 4.5 lakh authorised and 1.56 lakh unauthorised licenses of autorickshaws across Maharashtra. While distributing pending licenses, we will prefer alloting them to unauthorised license holders. They have been plying autos for so many years and we cannot throw them out of business," he said.

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