The Gangtok traffic police fine a driver at Zero Point in Gangtok on Saturday for overcharging.
Picture by Prabin Khaling
Gangtok, Oct. 20: Around 50 drivers of shared taxis have been fined by the police in East district over the past week for over-charging tourists and driving under the influence of alcohol.
The superintendent of police (East District) Manoj Tewari said the traffic police had been deployed at different points along the NH31A to check the local taxis, which carry the passengers to tourist places, including Siliguri and Darjeeling.
“The surprise check was started on Monday and over 50 drivers have been penalised for over-charging and drunken driving,” he said.
Out of 50 cases, almost 20 relate to drunken driving while the rest are for overcharging the passengers.
The rate per person for travel from Gangtok to Darjeeling is Rs 200, from Gangtok to Kalimpong, the fare is Rs 120 and the amount from Gangtok to Siliguri is Rs 250.
Tourists have alleged that drivers charge between Rs 50-Rs 100 extra from each passenger.
“The fare for the passenger taxis has been fixed by the motor vehicle division of the state transport department. There are different rates for different routes and charging more than that invites penalisation under the Motor Vehicle Act,” Tewari added.
Partha Saha, a resident of Siliguri said he was asked to pay Rs 350 to travel from Siliguri to Gangtok on a share basis in a Tata Sumo.
“Why should I pay more than the prescribed rate? The actual fare is not more than Rs 250 but the driver was charging us more,” he said.
The superintendent of police said the passengers who were being asked for extra fares could lodge a complaint at the traffic point office at MG Marg or at the Sadar police station
Tewari said they were also keeping a check on the mainline taxi stand at Deorali in East Sikkim.The taxi stand provides vehicles to Siliguri, Darjeeling and Kalimpong. “The amount of fine varies. It may start from Rs 500 and go up to Rs 2,000 depending on the charge. In cases of overcharging we are giving the drivers a fine receipt by seizing their documents, including the driving license. They have to pay the fine in the court and procure their documents,” said a senior traffic police officer.