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Fine whip on errant cabbies

Taxi drivers refusing passengers were fined Rs 3,000 during a raid conducted by the traffic police and the public vehicles department across the city on Wednesday.

The raids followed an assertion by transport minister Madan Mitra that the government would not sit back while cabbies refuse passengers at will in violation of rules.

The raiding teams on Wednesday slapped a fine of Rs 3,000 on each of the errant driver it came across without waiting for formal complaints from affected commuters. Earlier, the practice was to fine a cabbie caught refusing passengers Rs 100.

Teams comprising representatives of the PVD and the traffic police collected fines from 11 taxi drivers and seized the licences of another 11 for failing to cough up the amount.

The traffic police in separate raids booked a few more cabbies but their count was not available till late on Wednesday.

Cases under Section 120 (A) of the West Bengal Motor Vehicles Act were slapped on the errant drivers.

“Within a day or two we will decide whether to suspend the licences that have been punched for refusing passengers,” said V. Solomon Nesakumar, deputy commissioner, traffic.

The officer promised that the raids would continue till “there is a significant drop in refusal”.

Sources in the PVD said Gariahat, Park Street and Lindsay Street were among the spots where raids were conducted by the joint teams.

“In most cases, when we walked up to errant drivers to slap a case, they were apologetic and offered to carry the passengers they had just refused,” said a senior PVD official who was part of the team involved in the crackdown on Lindsay Street.

Minister Mitra had on Tuesday said the police would slap a spot fine of Rs 3,000 on drivers for refusing passengers. The government has also made it mandatory for taxi owners to send details of the drivers, including copies of their identity papers, to the respective local police stations.

These two were among the five measures the minister had announced in an attempt to rein in rogue cabbies and handle cases of refusal.

“The scale of today’s crackdown was much less compared with the extent of refusal. That shows in the number of cabbies hauled up,” said Sreemanti Chatterjee, a resident of Behala.

The Calcutta police have earmarked some locations for “taxi bays”, including the Chowringhee Road-Lindsay Street crossing, Hazra crossing, Park Street-Russell Street crossing and the stretch in front of Mani Square.

“We have posted police on these bays to handle refusal cases,” said deputy commissioner Nesakumar.