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Govt forming committee to look into permit, surge pricing issues

Transport ministry is setting up a high-level committee to look into various issues pertaining to taxi operators, including existing permits and surge pricing by app-based service providers like Ola and Uber.

The panel is being constituted as per the direction of the Delhi High Court which fixed August 22 as the deadline after which such entities and other taxi operators cannot charge passengers more than the government-fixed rates.

"A committee has been constituted to examine all relevant issues related to existing permits given to black/yellow taxis, radio taxis, aggregators etc," a Road Transport and Highways Ministry official said.

The 12-member panel will be headed by Road Transport and Highways Secretary Sanjya Mitra and will also address the issue of surge pricing by app-based aggregators and other taxi service providers.

The August 22 deadline was fixed after Uber has told in the High Court that it needs 10 days to make changes to its software to ensure passengers are not charged more than the rates stipulated by the Delhi government in June 2013.

Ola has told the court it has already stopped charging passengers more than the notified rates.

According to the prescribed rates, fare for Economy Radio Taxi is Rs 12.50 per km, while it is Rs 14 per km for non-AC black and yellow top taxi and Rs 16 per km for AC black and yellow top taxi. The notified fare of Radio Taxi cabs (distinguished by an LCD board on roof top displaying 'Radio Taxi') is Rs 23 per km. Additional night charge (25 per cent of the fare) is applicable between 11 PM and 5 AM.

While addressing the issue of surge pricing, the court observed that while taxi aggregators like Ola and Uber reduce the pressure on public transport, "a uniform policy must be devised" for regulating them. As per the direction from the High Court, the Ministry has constituted the committee which will finalise its report by October 31, the official said. Among other issues, the committee will examine "issues related to various permits under the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988" and will consult all stakeholders besides will formulated a credible and acceptable plan of action and frame draft scheme under the provisions of the Act, the official said.

The committee comprises Transport Commissioners from Delhi, Maharashtra, Telangana and Madhya Pradesh besides Joint Secretary and Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Transport and representatives from Ministry of Electronic and Information Technology, Central Pollution Control Board, Delhi Traffic Police and any other co-opted member.

The High Court has advised the transport department of the Delhi government, the Union transport ministry and Delhi Police to work together to ensure "seamless flow of data" regarding people applying for licence or permit to drive taxis. 
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