Facing criticism for new rule requiring knowledge of Marathi for taxi-permit, Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan has backtracked, saying that cabbie should know any local language including Hindi and Gujarati, said reports.
On Wednesday, state government issued new rules for taxi-permit which lay down that only those living in Maharashtra for 15 years and well versed in Marathi would be given taxi licences. However, government made it clear that this rule would not affect existing taxi drivers.
“Cabinet has gone by the Maharashtra Motor vehicles rules which were framed in 1989. As per that rule, for a person to have a permit, 15 years of domicile is compulsory. And the second rule says that for a taxi badge for a driver, working knowledge of local language is necessary.
“Cabinet has gone by the Maharashtra Motor vehicles rules which were framed in 1989. As per that rule, for a person to have a permit, 15 years of domicile is compulsory. And the second rule says that for a taxi badge for a driver, working knowledge of local language is necessary,” Chavan was quoted as saying.
“The local language can be Marathi, Hindi, Gujarati…it can include anything…the knowledge of the local language is necessary,” he added.
He said that taxi drivers could get taxi permits if they knew how to speak the local language such as Marathi, Gujarati, said reports.
Immediately after cabinet’s decision yesterday, the Bombay Taximen’s association, the oldest in the city, had condemned it and its secretary A L Quadros had termed it as unacceptable and politically motivated.
It may be mentioned that a sizeable section of over two lakh taxi drivers in Mumbai comprise migrants from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Uttarakhand. About 4,000 new taxi permits are given each year.
The government’s move is being seen as an attempt to woo the youth in the run up to the civic polls and counter the MNS, said reports.
In the meanwhile, RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav termed Maharashtra government’s decision as ‘unconstitutional’ and asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to make sure that it’s revoked, said reports.
However, Congress sought to downplay the controversy, saying the move was simply reinforcing an old provision in the Motor Vehicles Rule.
(Based on internet reports)