More meter calibrating centres needed: HC

The Bombay High Court pulled up the Regional Transport Office (RTO) for its slipshod implementation of calibrating meters of rickshaws and taxis following the fare hike. The court was also surprised that there were only three calibration centres to service the lakhs of taxis and autos, and has demanded for new centres in order to speed up the process.

Taxi and auto meters.
Sloppy: The High Court has criticised the RTO’s planning process. It said that there was a failure in the entire planning process of recalibrating the taxi and auto meters. File pic 

The division bench of Justices Dr DY Chandrachud and AA Sayed were hearing a PIL filed by NGO Mumbai Grahak Panchayat challenging the fare hike. In its order, the court noted that as of December 11, 2012, thousands of rickshaw and taxi meters had been recalibrated (see box). Advocate General Darius Khambata informed the court that the work of recalibration would be completed by the end of February next year.

Currently, there are only three calibration centres in the city — located at Kandivli, Bandra and Byculla. However, the centre at Byculla is not accessible to rickshaws. Rickshaw and taxi drivers complain that the shortage of centres forces them to wait for days to get their meters calibrated forcing them to stay off the streets. The court said, “Such a small number of agencies is unable to handle the large number of vehicles. It is necessary for the RTO to increase the number of agencies by the month’s end.”

The court also pulled up RTO officials for its planning process. “There is evidently a failure in the entire planning process, which needs to be rectified. Earnest steps need to be taken by the RTO for fulfilling the task of recalibration. As a result of the absence of infrastructure, taxis and autos are not apprised of the schedule for recalibration,” the court added. The bench has now suggested that the RTO update details of the schedule on its website, so unions and individuals can check details of the recalibration.

“There are several administrative issues which need to be sorted by the RTO… the ultimate hardship is on the consumer,” the court said. The matter has been kept for further hearing on December 20.

Meanwhile, the RTO said, “It has come to our attention that since the past 8-10 days that autorickshaw/taxi drivers are not coming forward to recalibrate their meters. Nor are those with mechanical meters coming forward to change their meters, delaying the work. We will take action against all rickshaw/taxi drivers who have not recalibrated their electronic meters between December 16 and January 31, 2013. The public can call our toll free number 9800220110 to complain against any uncalibrated digital or mechanical meter. Calibrated meters will increase the minimum fare to Rs 15 for rickshaws and Rs 19 for taxis.”

Numbers game
Electronic calibration pending:

14,723 out of 27,965 taxis
6,423 out of 58,945 rickshaws

Mechanical calibration pending:
6,660 out of 12,223 taxis
62,976 out of 95,814 rickshaws 

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