Illegal cabs thrive

Oct 11, 2012, 05:59 IST | Sukirt D. Gumaste

Despite several accidents involving illegal cabs on the Pune-Mumbai Expressway, the illicit business continues to thrive as a police team appointed to take action against the unauthorised ferrying of passengers has gone into slumber mode.

Chinchwad ST stand
In Chinchwad, all such cabs stand right at the MSRTC bus stand on the Pune-Mumbai highway. A bunch of agents continuously tries to convince commuters to use their cabs.

Free run: A vehicle without a yellow number plate picks up passengers for Mumbai. Pic/Navnath Kaple

These agents charge Rs 200-250 for the Pune-Dadar trip. A visit to the spot revealed many vehicles without the yellow number plate that is mandatory for cabs were running the illegal business.

On August 29, an accident involving an illegal cab killed six people, including a woman. After that, the police appointed a special team to take action against illegal cabs and many such vehicles were seized in the special drive that followed.

Now the situation is back to square one and the business is again started flourishing in the last few days.

“Three to four Scorpios occupy the road by standing in a row at the main service road of Pimpri-Chinchwad,” Ajinkya Kadam, a resident of the area, said. “They keep a door open by the roadside, which creates a traffic problem. The spot is opposite the Pimpri police station and two traffic policemen are also on duty at that chowk, but nobody is ready to take the action.”

According to the Pimpri police, the issue falls under the jurisdiction of the traffic police. Police Inspector (Traffic) Subhash Neve denied that action was not being taken against the illegal cabs.

“We are taking action regularly,” he said. “In the past month, we have seized 14 cabs and collected Rs 2.15 lakh in fines. Now the illegal cabs have almost disappeared.”

The Highway Police had also participated in the action taken by the special team in the past. SP (Highway Police) Dilip Bhujbal, said: “If the state government orders we can participate in the drive, but we cannot take regular action. Now, traffic branches are established at all district level. According to a government resolution issued on December 3, 2011, even a constable of the traffic branch or the local police can take direct action against these cabs, but our officer-level police cannot take the action.”

Pune rly station
The area around Pune railway station also teems with illegal private cabs. Agents stand on the main road, trying to convince passengers to travel in their vehicles instead of opting for trains or government buses. They generally promise customers they will reach Dadar in Mumbai within three hours. The journey is offered at Rs 200-250, which is much cheaper than the legal services operating on the Pune-Mumbai route.

“We are appealing to people to not travel by these illegal cabs,” Regional Transport Officer Arun Yeola said. “In case of an accident, passengers cannot get insurance claim because these cabs are running without any permit. They don’t have fitness certificate or yearly passing, so the condition of the vehicle may not be safe.”  

Difference between legal and illegal cabs
Vehicles which are registered as commercial vehicles, pay yearly passenger tax, and obtain a fitness certificate during routine passing are considered legal cabs. These cabs have yellow number plates. These vehicles come under the category of Contract Carriage, which means they can pick up passengers from one spot and convey them to another. These vehicles can not pick up passengers from unscheduled spots like Chinchwad, Lonawala. In the state, only MSRTC buses have the right to pick up passengers from different spots because MSRTC buses come under the category of Stage Carriage Contract.

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