December 17, 2016 1:46:04 am
It is 10.30 pm on a working day and home-bound working men and women mill around bus stops, waiting for transport. At the bus stop before Ashram flyover, private vehicles with white number plates drive up to willing passengers looking for the comfort of a cab at much lower than registered rates. Passengers negotiate routes and rates as low as Rs 20 before they board the vehicles.
Private vehicles operating as commercial ones in clear violation of the Motor Vehicles Act is an open secret in Delhi. While authorities express concern over the “invisible” nature of the violation and collusion of passengers, registered cab drivers allege that the government and police deliberately turn a blind eye to a very “visible crime”.
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Pawan Kumar, the driver of a yellow-black cab, says, “These cabs, mostly Eeco vans, operate especially outside hospitals and schools and public places like markets. We call up the traffic police ever so often about these cabs because they not only eat into our livelihood, they do not pay commertial tax and they are never penalised. We have made numerous complaints to the traffic police helpline but they only promise to look into it. Nothing changes.”
At Azadpur Chowk, a fleet of about 150 private vans ferry school students and passengers from the chowk to the nearby Maidangarhi village in the evenings, and back in the mornings. While grameen sewa drivers complained that this fleet of vans, illegally plying on routes clashing with theirs, were paying a hefty “entry fee” to local police, the drivers said they were doing the public a favour by operating since vehicles were overloaded.
A traffic police officer in the Delhi Cantonment area said, “It is difficult to detect violations because customers are mistaken for relatives or owners of the vehicle.”
A Delhi government transport department official said, “Many times, when passengers are boarding the cab and we catch the vehicle driver, passengers do not coorperate as they will have to get off. And, for the case to be tenable in court, we have to provide evidence like a passenger’s statement or a duty slip specifying the journey and charge.” The vehicles, if caught, are liable to be challaned under relevant sections of the MV Act for violating their registration certificates and misuse of vehicle for not carrying commercial permits.
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