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Blacklist for taxi refusal

Five taxis that had refused Metro during a random survey last month have been blacklisted by the public vehicles department, kickstarting a two-pronged crackdown that will see all complaints of cab refusal being probed simultaneously by police and transport officers.

Blacklisting means the owner/driver of a taxi must attend a hearing on a fixed date, failing which the vehicle won’t be able to legally ply.

“Once the taxi’s registration number is locked, the owner won’t be able to pay the quarterly fees, acquire a fitness certificate for the vehicle, get the fare meter checked, renew the permit or even go for a transfer of ownership,” a PVD official said.

The owners of the five taxis blacklisted on the basis of Metro’s taxi-refusal survey — the registration numbers were highlighted in a report on February 26 — have been asked to report for a hearing at the PVD’s Beltala office by next week.

“The registration numbers of these vehicles will remain locked till such time the charges against them are settled by paying the stipulated fine,” said C. Murugan, director of the PVD.

The department has opened a Facebook page called “PVD Kolkata” for citizens to lodge complaints. But the page administrator hasn’t enabled the option of public posts yet.

Officers have been asked to lock the registration numbers of errant taxis on Vaahan, a computer software used by the department.

The move follows a decision by the Mamata Banerjee government to launch a two-pronged crackdown on errant taxis, first by traffic police and the other by the PVD.

The traffic police department was previously the only arbiter in cases of taxi refusal, with deterrence restricted to a diluted on-the-spot penalty system. Written complaints reaching Lalbazar would be handled by a team from the special raid section, which organised “hearings” and slapped fines.

The usual penalty for taxi refusal in Calcutta is Rs 100, against the stipulated fine of Rs 2,000 for taxi refusal under Section 192A of the Motor Vehicles Act. The police can also “punch” a driving licence, with three such instances automatically resulting in suspension of the driving licence.

Blacklisting is seen as a stronger deterrent since it effectively “locks” a taxi that can legally ply again only after all the requisite fines are paid.

“The penalty ranges from Rs 650 to Rs 2,000, depending on the violation,” a PVD official said. “The driving licence of an offender can be seized for between three to six months.”

Two of the five taxis that had refused Metro — WB 11C 3469 and WB 11C 3618 — are registered with the regional transport authority in Howrah. The remaining three are registered with the Beltala office of the PVD.

Correction

The number of a sixth taxi that had refused Metro during the survey was not noted correctly. WB 04F 3537, the number mentioned in the February 26 report, is of a Calcutta police ambulance. Metro regrets the error.