Millennium Post

Uber challenges govt’s passenger safety orders

Uber, the app-based cab service provider, moved to the Calcutta High Court challenging the state government’s order to install surveillance cameras and panic buttons in their car.

It may be recalled that the state Transport department had entered into an agreement with the service provider on condition that they have to develop necessary infrastructure for security of passengers within a stipulated time. Counsels of the operator submitted before the Court why it is not essential to install surveillance cameras in other mode of public transports including buses and taxis when it has been made mandatory to install the same in app-based cars. 

Moreover, it needs a huge investment. The counsel submitted asking who will bear the cost of developing the infrastructure. Advocate general Jayanta Mitra will be submitting the state’s stand on the matter on Tuesday. The infrastructure to be set up includes installation of surveillance cameras and panic buttons in app-based cars. The app cab operator had shown reluctance in setting up the cameras in the cars stating that it would affect privacy of the passengers and escalation of operation cost, sources said.

Moreover as per the directives all the cars have to be GPS enabled and there must be separate 24x7 control rooms. The system should enable monitoring from the city police’s headquarters at Lalbazar. There should be infrastructure to store footages of the surveillance cameras in the cars for three days. 

The state Transport department had handed over offer letters to the operators that include Ola, Uber, Meru and Taxi for Sure on February 17 with expression that they will get licence if they come up with the required infrastructure and submit pending documents within the next three months. West Bengal government was the first in the country to provide such offer letters and to frame guidelines for the operation of app based cars.

There had been several meeting with senior officials of the state Transport department with operators of the app based cars. Suvendu Adhikari, the state transport minister, had also urged them repeatedly to develop the required infrastructure as there had been certain untoward incidents in such cars.
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