Citizens' Issues
Goa taxi drivers up ante over digital meters, rent-a-car services
Several attempts by the state government over the last decade to install fare meters have failed, even as fights between taxi drivers and passengers over fare disputes are commonplace
 
Months after Goa's tourist taxi drivers threatened an agitation over installation of digital meters, the cabbie community in the state may now go off the roads over an increase in licences granted to rent-a-car operators.
 
What started with the government last month notifying draft rules making it mandatory for the 7,000-odd tourist taxis in Goa to install GPS-capable digital meters, has threatened to snowball into a major issue between tourist taxi drivers and rent-a-car operators.
 
"The rental cars are being let out illegally and because of which we do not get customers. Many of them have salaried jobs and are running the business," Vinayak Nanoskar, general secretary of the North Goa Tourist Taxi Owners Association, told IANS.
 
He did not rule out a strike as an option.
 
Many of Goa's tourist taxis and their drivers have often been accused of over-charging, intimidating and operating in an unregulated environment.
 
Several attempts by the state government over the last decade to install fare meters have failed, even as fights between taxi drivers and passengers over fare disputes are commonplace.
 
Some years back, a flare-up between a Russian travel operator and a local taxi owner resulted in the murder of the latter, sparking hostilities between locals and Russian tourists.
 
With taxi services unpredictable, unorganised and expensive, the formal introduction of rent-a-car services in Goa licenced by the state transport department caught on, especially for tourists, nearly three million of whom visit the state annually.
 
"It works for us. If one considers a weekend holiday in Goa, hiring a rent-a-car service saves you at least Rs.2,000 compared to taxis," says Ramesh Shah, a businessman from Mumbai and a regular visitor to Goa.
 
Ramdas Palkar, president of the North Goa Rent-a-Cab Associations, claims that renting out cars is as good and legitimate a business as any.
 
"We are sons of the soil as well and we too have stomachs to feed and loans to repay. Giving out cars on rent is one of the provisions of the central government's Motor Vehicle Act and Rules," Palkar said, arguing that the demand made by the tourist taxi operators to scrap their licences was bizarre.
 
Palkar said that due to pressure by the taxi operators, the transport department had already stopped giving permission for rent-a-car operations in north Goa, referring to an embargo on fresh rent-a-car permits imposed by the authorities last year.
 
"We are not asking that the government should allow everyone to start a rent-a-car business. Only those who were registered before the embargo on new licences, on permissions and renewals should be given," he added.
 
Assistant director of transport Uday Gauns said the arguments put forth by both sides were being looked into and that the impasse between the two warring sides would be resolved soon.
 
"We will ensure there is no strike. The dispute will be settled amicably," Gauns said.

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Dutch warning: Rs 322-crore/km, Mumbai highway may be a 'disaster'
On June 5, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte met with Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and announced Dutch technical assistance for the 34.6-km-long road
 
At a public meeting convened by the Mumbai Waterfronts Centre (MWC) on June 24, the Dutch Consul in Mumbai, Arend Gouw, said that the city’s ambitious, expensive Rs.11,300-crore coastal road, if not planned properly, would “homogenise” the coast.
 
He then corrected this to “destroy”.
 
On June 5, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte met with Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and announced Dutch technical assistance for the 34.6-km-long road - 53 years after it was first planned - to be built at a cost of Rs 322 crore per km, or only Rs. 28 crore per km less than Mumbai’s future Metro lines.
 
Although the consultants presented the detailed project report (DPR) on the road on Mumbai’s western seafront this February, the municipal corporation only made it public on June 24.
 
This was after Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar cleared the road, connecting Nariman Point in south Mumbai to Kandivali in the northern suburbs, on June 8, subject to two conditions:
 
One, to reclaim as little land for the project; such reclamation was halted in 1974 after protests by environmentalists.
 
Second, to retain the current building restrictions under the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ). These prohibit construction within 500 metres of the high-tide line.
 
Since the road will be constructed some 100-200 metres off the coast, there was the danger that the high-tide line would have been pushed back by that much, permitting construction on some of India’s most expensive real estate.
 
Activists attended a meeting convened by the MWC on July 3 to list their objections to the project, originally mooted by Los Angeles-based planners in 1962.
 
The DPR reveals the lack of institutional support for a coherent mobility policy, according to Rishi Aggarwal from the Observer Research Foundation.
 
It also cites how due to the global economic downturn, Mumbai's population growth has slowed perceptibly. Between 2001 and 2011, the city only grew by 500,000 people.
 
It shows that the growth in car traffic will peak at 3 percent per annum between 2015 and 2019, slowing down to 0.3 percent between 2040 and 2043, an average of only 1.7 percent in these 28 years.
 
It estimated a maximum of 34,090 cars per day in 2014 through the existing Bandra-Worli Sea Link (BWSL), which was built in 2009 and will be connected to the road. This dropped to 11,378 cars at its southernmost section at Nariman Point.
 
In 2044, it estimated at most 61,749 cars a day at BWSL, dropping to 27,616 at Nariman Point.
 
Nariman Point and south Mumbai are losing their clout as the old central business district. They are ceding ground to the Bandra-Kurla Complex, where real estate prices are higher. Other centres have opened up in the suburbs too for IT and other industries.
 
Apart from the declining importance of Nariman Point, motorists are reluctant to pay Rs.60 one way or Rs.90 return and prefer to use the old inland route, which takes more time.
 
If one took the interest on the Rs.11,300 crores spent on the new road - which will go up when finally ready in three or more years - and added maintenance costs, the one-way toll from Kandivali to Nariman Point should be around Rs.400, according to an expert. Few people would pay this.
 
The alignment of the road is also questionable, according to Shweta Wagh, on the faculty of Kamala Raheja college. There will be an undersea 5-km-long tunnel from Nariman Point across the Marine Drive bay through Malabar Hill to Nepean Sea Road.
 
When Marine Drive already exists as a reclaimed road, why not align the road to follow its contours, asks Wagh.
 
At Dadar Prabhadevi beach, Dutch technology has been used to replenish the sandy beach and prevent further erosion. With the construction envisaged for the road, further damage to the coastal topography can’t be ruled out.
 
According to an earlier official report, 186 hectares will be reclaimed, but no buildings will be permitted on them.
 
This will obstruct the operations of fisherfolk, according to Rajesh Mangela of the Maharashtra Machimar Kruti Sangh. In the past, reclamation at Nariman Point and BWSL has similarly affected their livelihood.
 
Under the original scheme for the road, proposed by the architect Hafeez Contractor, there would have been an even 100-metre-wide entirely reclaimed swathe to serve as the highway. This would have privatised public space.
 
If the Metro is built into the road, it will increase reclamation “drastically”, according to an official who worked on the road. Officials have also mentioned creating parking areas along the road.
 
While the DPR route shows the road ending abruptly in Madh island, which will be connected to Greater Mumbai by a bridge, the narrow roads running through these northern villages will be widened even more than the coastal road. This will destroy the ambience of these areas, which serve as week-end getaways for Mumbaikars.
 
The DPR admits that the project will not be financially viable on a Build, Operate and Transfer basis. However, it does not specify how much it should charge as tolls to recover capital and recurring costs.  

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COMMENTS

Templeviewchs

2 years ago

This ambitious COASTAL ROAD project would be most unviable and would make INDIAN ROADS HOMOS....is in fact correct. No air will circulate to the MUMBAI CITY as all COASTS will be JAMMED with TRAFFIC AND BLDGS.

Aadhaar: Nagrik Chetna Manch files contempt petition against RBI, CEC, Cabinet Secretary
The Manch has prayed for prohibition on linkage of Aadhaar number to any benefits, to end the discrimination of persons into Aadhaar and non-Aadhaar residents and restrain the Government from transferring biometric information of any person
 
Pune-based Nagrik Chetna Manch (NCM) had filed a contempt petition against Governor of Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and the Cabinet Secretary for violating orders passed by the Supreme Court on Aadhaar.
 
"Despite these orders (from the Supreme Court) neither the Government of India nor States and their functionaries have been complying with the orders of the Supreme Court in letter and spirit. They have continued to cause suffering by continuously mandating more and more for registration and linkages to the Aadhaar," the Manch pointed out in a release.
 
Nagrik Chetna Manch has prayed for prohibition on linkage of Aadhaar number to any benefits, to end the discrimination of persons into Aadhaar and non-Aadhaar residents and restrain the Government from transferring biometric information of any person from or to any other agency without specific written permission.
 
The Manch, in its petition has named Pradeep Kumar Sinha, Cabinet Secretary, Dr Raghuram Rajan, Governor, RBI, Nasim Zaidi, Chief Election Commissioner, and Swadheen S Kshatriya, Chief Secretary of Government of Maharashtra as contemnors. 
 
There was a spurt of directives in the last few months by both the Central and State governments violating the orders of the Supreme Court by mandating linkages of benefits to the possession of Aadhaar number, the Manch said.
 
According to the Manch, the Department of Electronics and Communication Technology integrated Aadhaar to draw benefits in the newly launched Digital India Program. The Ministry of Labour and Employment made Aadhaar number compulsory for Employees' State Insurance (ESI) services. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy made Aadhaar mandatory for receiving capital subsidy. The Ministry of Rural Development made Aadhaar compulsory for services under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA). The Government of Maharashtra made Aadhaar compulsory for ration services at Fair Price Shops and for school admissions and the Election Commission of India issued instructions for linking Aadhaar number with Elector's Photo Identity Card.
 
As the common man continues to suffer the Aadhaar, the Manch in its Petition 932 of 2013, has alleged that the linkage of Aadhaar to various databases is destroying governance and ability to govern. NCM has also highlighted that it will end the rule of law and perhaps even compromise the sovereignty of India. Such linkage of bank accounts to Aadhaar is facilitating money laundering. Linkage of Aadhaar to the EPIC and NPR is destroying the ability to distinguish citizens from residents and giving citizenship to illegal immigrants as well as anti-nationals. 
 
Earlier in March 2015, a bench of Justice J Chelameswar, Justice SA Bobde and Justice C Nagappan reiterated it was incumbent upon the Central government to ensure that the States complied with the Supreme Court's order of not making Aadhaar mandatory for availing social benefits under various schemes.
 
The apex court by its 23 September 2013 order, had said "no person should suffer for not getting the Aadhaar in spite of the fact that some authorities had issued a circular making it mandatory and when any person applies to get the Aadhaar voluntarily, it may be checked whether that person is entitled for it under the law and it should not be given to any illegal immigrant."
 

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COMMENTS

manoharlalsharma

2 years ago

Aadhaar: Nagrik Chetna Manch files contempt petition against RBI, CEC, Cabinet Secretary./ To get some betterment ANGER is no solution & If u do understand as u believe do not PARTICIPATE in to the schemes brought by the Government of STATE/CENTRAL is the only solution COURTS r already BURDENED.

anil vanjpe

2 years ago

Thanks for highlighting latest developments. S.C Directions are based on several aspects and not just one or two. It also has highlighted verification need which Govt. appears to have thrown to dustbin in spite of relating to non Indians, Anti nationals,and NRIs who do not stay in India and do not need any subsidy.It is like Maha. Govt. stating new law will be enacted to bye pass Bombay High Court verdict, to protect Festivals celebration on roads, noise pollution. BJP is no better than Congress. Height of Cheapness by an educated Chief Minister. Rather appears worst than even U.P. Govts over the years.Drastic checkis required on BJP Govts especially after VYAPAM DAY LIGHT Murders.

Ragavan

2 years ago

Aadhaar is the BEST thing to happen to the country. Please see the savings which the government has got due to linkage of LPG which is to the tune of 12,700 cr in just one year. Nearly 3 cr bogus LPG connections came to the forefront. Aadhaar is helping weed out corruption and anyone who is opposing this are majorly the people who were earlier benefitting from the leakage.

For the first time technology is being used for the benefit of common man. associations and individuals must understand this before filing PIL.

REPLY

Mahesh Khanna

In Reply to Ragavan 2 years ago

There must be some reasons where the SC has decided not to make itr compulsary,do you want to say that the SC without application of mind has decided the issue.

Ankit

In Reply to Ragavan 2 years ago

Ragavan,
The savings are not due to Aadhar. Please correct yourself.
It was PAHAL that facilitated the benefits you highlighted.

MOHAN SIROYA

2 years ago

Thanks for making this important PIL public, which so far no mainstream media has done. BJP Government indeed does not know what is Governance. It is just following the same discriminatory policies which were espoused by the UPA /Congress Government and which the BJP had opposed vociferously when they were in opposition . And Apex Court rulings or not , being in a brute majority in the lower house of Parliament , BJP will continue to indulge in such discrimination in other areas too at the cost of genuine Indian Citizens
One more such discrimination is enshrined in the Public Provident Fund (PPF)Scheme; where the eligibility is defined as "any Indian resident except the NRI" can open or continue PPF account. Laughable it is ,when we see this in the context of prevailing Indian situation where many non-Indian illegal immigrants ( Bangladeshi, Pakistani etc.) have acquired the status of Indian "Residents" or even Citizenship by getting Aadhaar Cards or Ration cards . But our own Natural Indian citizens who were born and brought up in India but have now gone to other countries for greener pastures, have been deprived of even opening or contributing in the PPF schemes. In other words, India is denying the right to contribute in the development of their own country, whose citizens such NRIs are .

REPLY

nginx

In Reply to MOHAN SIROYA 2 years ago

I think its perfectly fine to deny any benefits to NRIs. Why should Indians who have left the country for greener pastures expect any benefits from the Indian government?

Mahesh Khanna

In Reply to nginx 2 years ago

Do you agree with benefits to the illegal bangladeshi and Pakistan through AAdhar enrollment?

MOHAN SIROYA

In Reply to nginx 2 years ago

What a logic? Let 'NON Indians', who have illegally migrated to India and got a proof as RESIDENT can jolly well draw the benefits and not the Natural citizens of India . And it does not require a law degree to observe that the word "Resident" used in the scheme should have been used as "Citizen". Then let the NRIs be excluded.

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