The Mamata Banerjee government has decided to issue permits to 2,000 new taxis — half of them air-conditioned — to those who submit an affidavit each declaring they would not refuse passengers or join strikes.
The state transport department has issued a notification to this effect.
The notification states that permits will be issued after an applicant submits an affidavit sworn on non-judicial stamp paper before a magistrate or a notary public announcing that he will never participate in any strike, bandh and will not refuse to carry a passenger.
“It is a small step towards putting a stop on taxi refusals,” state transport minister Madan Mitra said.
The move has hit the nail on its head as taxi unions have criticised the notification.
Bimal Guha of the Bengal taxi union said the step initiated by the state is unjust. “In a democratic country, the government cannot issue permits against any kind of affidavits. We will take up the issue with the transport minister.”
Transport department officials said the notification would not be rescinded.
“There is no question of dragging our feet. We will soon start the process of giving fresh permits against undertakings,” said an official.
After the notification was issued, questions have been raised whether the existing taxis will be allowed to refuse passengers.
Mitra told Metro: “Let us start the initiative to uproot the evil from its roots. Let us start with a small step.”
The minister explained that his department couldn’t start taking action against errant taxis without providing alternatives.
“If we start taking action, the number of taxis in the city will reduce. So we have to arrange alternatives in advance before we book the errant taxis. Issuing new permits with a precondition is a step to arrange alternatives,” the minister added.
The notification also states that the new taxis will be blue and white, the chief minister’s favourite colour, instead of the ubiquitous yellow.
“NO REFUSAL” will be written in bold on these taxis.
The taxis will be fitted with GPS or GPRS-based navigational and location-indicating devices and keep two free newspapers — Bengali and English — for the passengers.
Officials said the government has been forced to take drastic action because Calcuttans have long been struggling with taxi refusals, sometimes even at stands.
- Instead of yellow, the new taxis will be blue and white
- The taxis will be
- Keep a Bengali and an English newspaper for