Rickshaw unions in the city are planning to approach the Bombay high court seeking a state government directives for a rickshaw/taxi fare hike. Some of these unions held a meeting with transport authorities, including transport commissioner VN More, on Monday to press their demand for fare hike.
Speaking to DNA, Thampi Kurien, general secretary, Mumbai Rickshawmen's Union, said: "The last fare hike was in October 2012. We believe the fare should have been hiked this May. There is a court case going on about the last fare hike. We will be approaching the high court anytime now seeking its permission for a fare hike."
The matter, according to state transport officials, is complicated.
A consumer forum has challenged in the high court the PMA Hakeem Committee report which recommended the fare, and the government resolution (GR) ordering the fare hike in October 2012.
"Under the circumstances, there is a grey area on whether it would be contempt of court if the state announces a further fare hike as per the Hakeem Committee report. We are checking with the state law and judiciary ministry on what step to take next," a senior transport official told this newspaper.
The Hakeem Committee, which laid down the formula by which rickshaw and taxi fares should be calculated, had recommended that the fares be hiked on an annual basis every May. Of course, this hike would have to be justified by a complex calculation of factors like compress natural gas (CNG) price, cost of living index and rickshaw/taxi maintenance charges.
"Since October 2012, the price of CNG, one of the main ingredients of Hakeem Committee formula, has increased from Rs 33.05 to Rs 38.95, a rise of Rs 5.90. This itself justifies a hike. Moreover, the cost of living, insurance we pay for our vehicles, and the cost of maintenance have increased," said a union leader.
The general consensus among unions in the city is that for rickshaws the flag-down rate should at least be Rs 17, Rs 2 more than the current Rs 15.
Taxi unions on their part are looking at a hike of Rs 6, taking the flag down rate to Rs 25 from the current Rs 19.