Stuck since 1997, Maharashtra govt may unfreeze kaali-peeli permits

Authorities will focus on reducing the demand and supply gap on the roads by issuing more permits to kaali-peelis; aggregators like Ola and Uber may be regulated

The two-day taxi strike that paralysed the city last week has forced the Maharashtra government to consider unfreezing taxi permits for the black-and-yellow (or kaali-peeli) cabs that were put on hold since 1997.

The government wants a level playing field for kaali-peelis, fleet cabs and aggregators. File pic
The government wants a level playing field for kaali-peelis, fleet cabs and aggregators. File pic

Senior government officials told mid-day that the government plans to issue a notification this week bringing in a number of regulations for aggregators Ola and Uber, but essentially focusing on reducing the demand-supply gap on the roads by issuing more permits to kaali-peelis.

The transport department had, at last count, issued 54,000 permits for kaali-peeli taxis and phased out another 15,000 that had become obsolete. The state government’s yet-to-be published notification has stressed that the need of the hour is a liberal regime on the issuance of permits, the lack of which has paved the way for private fleet cabs and aggregators.

The proposal is pending approval from the transport minister. “The Olas and Ubers have come up precisely due to a shortage of the kaali-peeli cabs, the permits for which we had put on freeze many years back. The government is now of the view that while we need to create a level playing field for all, including kaali-peelis, fleet cabs and the aggregators, the demand and supply gap is the root cause of all these problems,” said a senior state official.

The notification has been sent to the transport minister for his approval, but sources declined to comment on the number of permits that would eventually be opened up in the process. “There is no cap we have thought of, we just want to open up the permits and are advocating a laissez-faire market for all kinds of taxis and cabs now,” added the official.

Level playing field
The notification is likely to bring all the taxis services on a par; these could include measures such as either bringing kaali-peelis under an app-based system or even installing GPS in them. For Uber and Ola, the regulation could be to the extent of controlling the fares or giving them permits to ply for point-to-point pick up.

“There are a lot of aspects to these regulations, we are also thinking of geographically restricting private cabs to a certain area, such as only south Mumbai or only suburbs. We could also do away with their permits and bring them under the Motor Vehicles Act,” said the senior official.

54k
Number of permits that have been issued by the transport department for kaali-peeli taxis in the city

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