Citizens' Issues
Public Interest Exclusive
With transport fares going up, citizens vent their frustration

Now officially, Mumbai’s taxis have outgrown their “sweet sixteen” ways. And it is raising the hackles of commuters

Jokes apart, ‘officially’, cab fares in Mumbai have been hiked by Re1 for the minimum 1.6 km distance; and 50p for each km thereafter. Taxi drivers are happy, though they would have ‘preferred’ a Rs4 hike for the first 1.6 km and Rs2 for each km thereafter, as the increase in the price of CNG from Rs31.47 per kg toRs33.10 per kg cannot be overcome.

So for the Rs1.5 increase per kg, everyone taking a taxi will pay much more per kilometre. Navi Mumbai residents, though, will see better days; with auto fares being slashed from Rs15 to Rs11 for the first km, and Rs7 for each subsequent kilometre from the earlier Rs9.50.

“That is so much better,” said a resident of Vashi, “Because even in Bandra we have Rs11 on the meter. Why pay Rs15 in Navi Mumbai?” But overall, travel is going to cost the same to her; because she comes to work near Sewri, and has to take a cab from the station to her office. “I am paying more or less the same. The auto from my home to Vashi station is going to cost less, but travelling from Sewri station to my workplace is going to be more. There is not going to be any difference. Only if I decide to roam around in Navi Mumbai, it is going to be cheaper,” she said.

Similar is the case of people who travel by bus. BEST says that fares may be hiked, with the minimum amount being raised from Rs5 from Rs4, and subsequently, Rs3 from Rs2. Going by the deplorable financial condition BEST finds itself in, there are also talks about a 15% hike in electricity tariff in the city. Because, as the BEST officials put in, “there is a limit to the subsidies we can offer”.

Naturally, it has not gone down well with commuters. “Everything becomes more expensive—transport, food, medicines, electricity, homes, cosmetics, books. Our salaries don’t,” says Mrs Seema Godbole, a schoolteacher.

Experts have a different view on the matter. “The local public transport in Mumbai— be it bus, taxi or train—is currently in a pathetic condition. Hiking fares does not address the issue. One has to consider the real problem that people face and come up with a solution. Bus transport is the most under utilised mode of transport, while train is used beyond highly used. Ideally, the residence and work place should at minimum distance for easy commuting. There has to be a shift from people travelling in the car to taxi, from train to buses and then finally to bicycles and even walking,” says Ashok Datar, a transport expert. Sudhir Badami, another transport expert, says that taxes on cars should be increased.

Thankfully, train fares are going to stay the same. Though overburdened, the lifeline continues to pulse. “Long distance train journeys are going to become expensive,” said a city resident, “hopefully they stop at that and leave local fares untouched.”

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Credit card frauds down to 7,300 in 2011

The over 7,300 credit card frauds reported in 2011 involved Rs21.79 crore.

The government said the number of credit card frauds has come down to 7,305 in 2011, from 20,806 cases of fraud two years ago.

"The Reserve Bank of India has reported that as per data submitted by scheduled commercial banks, incidents of credit card frauds have decreased during the calendar years 2009 to 2011," Minister of State for Finance Namo Narain Meena said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.

The over 7,300 credit card frauds reported in 2011 involved Rs21.79 crore. As many as 20,806 frauds involving Rs61.3 crore were reported in 2009.

The minister further said eight cases of such frauds were reported in public sector banks in 2011 involving Rs61.46 lakh.

State-owned banks, which reported credit card frauds, last year, were: Bank of India, Bank of Maharashtra, Corporation Bank, Punjab National Bank and Allahabad Bank.

To combat frauds on credit cards, the Reserve Bank has advised banks to take preventative measures like educating customers through hoardings, advertisements, and posting cautionary messages on their websites.

An RBI working group has suggested that chip-based cards may be used as an alternative to magnetic strip card as a measure to counter credit and ATM card frauds.

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International wellness card launched

Prime India has launched two cards in two marketing segments - gold and platinum.

Facilitating easy medical access to patients from abroad, healthcare major Prime India launched the International Wellness Card.

The end-to-end approach in the form of an International Wellness Card will enable patients from abroad to gain access to a host of e-health services, medical tourism educational kits and discounted rates on medical services and products, Ramesh Balasubramanian, business head, medical tourism, Prime India told reporters.

The card will be available for patients from 12 countries - Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Nigeria, Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Botswana, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain and Dubai to have medical access to hospitals having ties with Prime India, he said.

“We have tie-ups with over 45 hospitals in the country. The card will help patients to have an easy access to medical services in these hospitals. More than just a card, we will also electronically store the medical records of our clients, so that they need not carry around them where ever they go,” Mr Balasubramanian said.

Prime India has launched two cards in two marketing segments - gold and platinum.

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