Chief minister Mamata Banerjee this week revoked the Rs 3,000 fine imposed on taxi drivers refusing passengers. This has been replaced with a 5 stage Kolkata taxi refusal fine structure. Refusal fine of Rs 3,000 had been introduced by transport minister Madan Mitra. The minister attached to the Saradha scam is in CBI custody at present. Open discussions point to Mamata Banerjee relaxing the fine to woo wooing taxi drivers and transport operators ahead of Kolkata Municipal Corporation polls.
The new Kolkata taxi refusal fine structure came into effect on the Friday preceding Valentine’s Day. Superstition aside, it sure is an unlucky day for those who use cabs in Kolkata. The new fine structure is laugh-worthy, rather than being a deterrent, which is why it was effected in the first place. Having gone soft on taxi unions’ demands the new progressive fine structure begins at Rs 100 for the first no refusal complaint. It’s Rs 200 for a 2nd complaint, Rs 300 for a 3rd complaint, Rs 500 for a 4th complaint, and Rs 1000 for 5 complaints, and above. She opined the 3K Kolkata taxi refusal fine was a bit too much, and refusals can be permitted if a cabbie was returning home at night. City taxis had been on a 10 day long strike in August 2014 to protest no-refusal fines.
Apart from reduced fines, police were instructed to withdraw light cases if the reported commit to behaving properly on roads. Law would not overlook serious cases against drivers. Announcements also include health insurance and family pension for taxi helpers’, commercial vehicle, and auto-rickshaw drivers. The city is working towards identifying taxi stands to combat increased parking in no parking zones. There were no taxis on city streets for 10 days since last August in protest against state government’s Rs. 3,000 fine. A steering committee was constituted under Panchayat and public health engineering minister, Subrata Mukherjee to address transporters’ grievances. Other members include, Chief secretary Sanjay Mitra, transport secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay, police commissioner Surojit Kar Purkayastha, State urban development and municipal affairs minister Firhad Hakim, housing and youth affairs minister Arup Biswas.