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Delhi Govt cracks whip on Ola, Uber; to ban surge pricing permanently

The Delhi government's transport department impounded 50 more taxis, including 35 registered outside Delhi for over-charging commuters. "We have impounded 50 more taxis following complaints from customers. All the taxis belong to various app based
India TV News Desk April 21, 2016 8:32 IST
India TV News Desk

New Delhi: In a bid to put a permanent end to the surge pricing mechanism, the Delhi government will soon frame a policy to regulate app-based taxis and their fares.

Describing taxi aggregator Ola and Uber’s business model as “daylight robbery”, Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday said that raising cab fares during high demand will be banned permanently in the capital.

“Surge pricing is daylight robbery. No responsible govt can allow that (sic),” Kejriwal said in a tweet.

“Some taxis saying they will not provide cab if they are not allowed to loot. This is open blackmailing n govt will not let that happen (sic).”

Delhi government on Monday banned “surge pricing” – the term used for demand-linked taxi fares – till the odd-even scheme was in force but changed its mind after a severe shortage of cabs.

Ola and Uber have earlier defended the surge pricing mechanism saying it is used to lure more cab drivers to offer services during high demand.

The Delhi government's transport department impounded 50 more taxis, including 35 registered outside Delhi for over-charging commuters.

"We have impounded 50 more taxis following complaints from customers. All the taxis belong to various app based cab aggregators," a Delhi government official said.

On Monday,the Delhi government had seized 18 taxis belonging to Ola and Uber for over-charging commuters, taking advantage of a leap in demand for taxis during the ongoing odd-even traffic scheme.

Amid criticism of and complaints against the odd-even system by some people on Facebook and Twitter, the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), which is under the union government's Ministry of Earth Sciences, said that particulate matter pollution had dipped marginally.

The PM 2.5 level declined to 90.2 on Wednesday from the level of 124.6 a day ago, while PM 10 came down to 210 from 275.1, SAFAR said.

"This time odd-even of Delhi Government is not working. But a few law abiders do obviously suffer," ran one complaint on Facebook.

In some places, citizens complained about auto rickshaw drivers refusing to ferry passengers and demanded that the city government crack down on three-wheelers like they have on cab aggregators.

On Monday, Kejriwal threatened "strict action" over "surge pricing", a technique used by cab aggregators to hike fares in the event of high demand.

After app-based cab operator Uber blamed the Delhi government for taxi shortage, Kejriwal clarified in the morning through a series of tweets that his government was not opposed to online aggregators but insisted they should obey the law.

"We are not against taxi aggregators. We fully support them. They provide important service to people. But they will have to follow (the) law.

"Overcharging, diesel cars, drivers without license/badges and blackmailing by taxi aggregators won't be allowed," the chief minister tweeted.

On Monday, Uber and Ola had suspended surge pricing after Kejriwal threatened of stern action against overcharging by cab operators.

The demand for taxis has shot up in the capital on account of the odd-even traffic scheme that commenced on April 15 and will run till April 30.

Restrictions on diesel and petrol driven cars during the ongoing scheme has forced thousands of motorists to go for taxis to commute.

Kejriwal has termed the surge pricing as "daylight robbery" and blamed the companies for "openly blackmailing" the Delhi government.

"Surge pricing is daylight robbery. No responsible government can allow that.
"Some taxis saying they will not provide cab if they are not allowed to loot. This is open blackmailing (and) government will not let that happen," he said in tweets on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, former Delhi BJP chief Vijay Goel, who staged a protest on Monday and was challaned for violating odd-even norms, on Wednesday announced that he would intensify his protest against the Kejriwal regime on the issue.

"The odd-even mechanism has only added to citizen's woes," he said adding that a number of citizens and representatives from various NGOs will visit the residence of AAP MLAs on April 22 and offer them a rose along with a memorandum saying that the scheme was being implemented without any ground work.

(IANS inputs)