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Maharashtra’s new rules for getting new taxi permits
Published on 21 Jan. 2010 12:15 AM IST
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In a controversial move, the Maharashtra government Wednesday made it mandatory for new applicants for taxi driver's permits to be domiciled in the state and to be able to read, write and speak Marathi. The decision will not affect the existing 35,000 permit holders but will be applicable for the 24,000 fresh permits that will be issued over the next six years. The decision was taken at a meeting of the state cabinet presided over by Chief Minister Ashok Chavan here Wednesday afternoon. The move would effectively debar a large majority of people from outside Maharashtra, especially north Indians, for whom a quick and lucrative employment option is plying taxis here. Of the new permits, 4,000 would be issued every year at a cost of Rs.100,000. By this, the government will net Rs.2.4 billion over the next six years. Though women and other categories of applicants would be encouraged, all permit seekers must be domiciled in Maharashtra - meaning 15 years continuous stay in the state - and be able to speak, read and write Marathi. Not amused by the proposal, taxi drivers are contemplating legal options against the government move, especially since a majority of them in the city hail from states like Punjab, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, while some are from south India and the rest from Maharashtra. "We are seeking legal opinion on this issue. We are also prepared to go to the people's court over this," Mumbai Taximen's Union general secretary A.L. Quadros said, reacting to the government proposal. The agitational methods would include mass protests by cabbies and a shutdown in protest, he added. At the other extreme, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) has welcomed the government proposal, terming it as "a victory of Raj Thackeray's policies and vision". "We were not wrong in our cause for Marathis, we have been saying it for over two years now," MNS vice-president Vageesh Saraswat sold IANS. He said though belated, the government has realized and is now making the announcement to garner Marathi votes ahead of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and other civic and local bodies elections scheduled in different parts of the state over the next couple of years.

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