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Pool car gets the licence to switch

The government on Tuesday laid down a set of guidelines to allow the conversion of pool cars into “commercial vehicles” to ferry schoolchildren.

In a move meant to cover close to 7,500 pool cars ferrying kids in the city and its adjoining areas to and from school, the transport ministry said only vehicles registered since January 2000 would be eligible for “conversion” provided the operators followed the rule book.

The underlying condition is that all operators must abide by the safety norms prescribed by the apex court in 2007 for ferrying school kids.

Tuesday’s meeting concluded with the resolution that all pool car operators would have to pay Rs 2,500 for a five-year permit and a tax, like all commercial vehicles, on a quarterly basis.

“The government seemed serious about our demands and we are optimistic. But we have also told them that there should be no crackdown on pool cars till things are sorted out,” said Abir Roy, the secretary of the Pool Car Welfare Owners Association.

“We have also sought some financial support from the government for the conversion process and for those handing over their pre-2000 vehicles for renewal,” he added.

The government had earlier decided to launch a crackdown on pool cars, following which the operators had threatened a strike.

“We’ve laid down certain conditions, including specific logo for pool car operators. This time, we hope the owners will abide by our conditions,” said state transport minister Ranjit Kundu. “We might have to give certain concessions, like a provision for attendants, which will be decided after going through the report.”

The report he was referring to will be placed before the minister on Wednesday by the Public Vehicles Department and the Route Transport Authority. “We seem to have instilled a method in the madness and things should get streamlined from now on,” said Ujjwal Sengupta, the secretary of the authority.

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