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Menace of TSRs...

By Maxwell Pereira

DELHI HAS about one lakh taxis and TSRs that operate on the basis of permits granted by the Transport Department. Permits to these public transport facilitation vehicles are granted subject to conditions - among which are also mandatory requirements like operating and charging only in accordance with the fare structure determined and prescribed from time to time by the authorities. The 'conditions' also prescribe that they shall not misbehave with commuters, nor overcharge, or refuse to be engage without valid reason. To ensure against overcharging , they are required to have fare meters certified by the Weights and Measures department of the Government. In its intervention earlier in the year, the Apex Court also committed the Government to ensure installation of non - tamperable electronic fare meters on all Taxi or TSRs.

Common experience of the commuting public tbat these public service transport facilitators rampantly violate these very condition and indulge in looting with impunity. Only a bare minimum in numbers have so far been motivated to install the new meters... but even these, it is alleged, are not being operated, on feigned grounds of being defective. Public complains that the drivers just pull out the wires from their meters to show they are not working .

As managers of the State Transportation Policy, the Transport Department lays down the norms and issues permits to various categories of public transport - buses, taxis, TSRs , etc. in numbers determined by the market demands and other criteria prescribed by the government in power. And the Transport Department generally enforces adherence to these norms and permit conditions through its own Enforcement Wing.

In its role as maintainers of public order on roads, the Traffic police are primarily concerned with the control and regulation of traffic on roads and responsible for enforcement of rules and regulations in the MV Act and Rules under the chapter "Traffic Control" concerning the actual traffic control and regulation. In addition, and by convention, where the transport Department requires further assistance of the Traffic Police to augment its own enforcement of 'permit conditions' related violations, to the extent support and the desired assistance is extended.

In this line , the Traffic Police in Delhi also pioneered, years ago the concept for the country of the prepaid Taxi or TSR service; and since 1986 have provided all over the city Pre-paid Service counters which over the years have grown in numbers to 28 - at Railway Stations, Airports, ISBTs and commercial centers - to facilitate and save commuters from the harassment by unscrupulous operators. There is also a round the clock "Traffic Helpline" on phone number 3378888 mainly to cater to aggrieved people harassed by TSRs or Taxis for refusal, overcharging, misbehaviour and tampered meters. In addition, there is free distribution of pre - postage -paid complaint cards through which any member of the public can send in his/her complaint. The complaint are readily available at all pre - paid counters, traffic assistant booths, and officers and men of Delhi Traffic Police.

Everything is not hunky - dory or as it should be, with the city's Taxi/TSRs... And ways and means have to be found to stop them from holding the city to ransom by stone-walling the installation of electronic meters in their vehicles with a view to loot he hapless public. The Delhi Traffic Police have launched special drives to discipline these errant ones for refusal, overcharging, misbehaviour and tampered meters... even for being without the prescribed uniform, which too is one of the conditions of permit. Till the end of may 2002, a total of 59,599 violations by TSR drivers were booed and 18,043 by taxi drivers.

902 TSRs and 50 Taxis were also impounded, and permits of 19 Taxis and 1929 TSRs were suspended for committing the mentioned violations. In addition, in the ' challans - that - follow - you - to - the - house' category of prosecutions through Notices, another 65,566 TSR violations and 8019 Taxi violations are being pursued.

But all this is pittance in terms of required enforcement when compared to the quantum of the existing problem, it is felt that public should not be acquiescing... they should complain more.

© copyright : Maxwell Pereira
Courtesy Mid Day, dated June 12, 2002

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