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Strike? We will strike back, govt warns taxi operators

Tomorrow’s stir declared illegal; law violators will be punished

18th January 2018, 07:50 Hrs

the goan I network

PANAJI

Transport Minister Ramakrishna “Sudin” Dhavalikar on Wednesday declared that the strike declared by the tourist taxi operators on January 19 is “illegal” and those violating law will be punished. The Minister has also threatened to pull the plug on the government schemes and subsidies granted to tourist taxis.   

Dhavalikar further informed that the government is prepared with 350 buses and 1,000 private vehicles, which will be pressed into service on January 19 to avoid inconvenience to tourists in the state and to release the pressure on busy spots such as the airport and railway stations.   

Briefing the media at Panaji, Dhavalikar said, “The strike is illegal and without any consent from the government and without any reason. I still request them not to go ahead.”   

He disclosed that KTC has been asked to press 350 extra buses into service on the affected routes, of which 60 will be on the airport routes. As well as cater to railway stations.   

It was informed that all major roads and junctions will  witness heavy police deployment on Friday in order to prevent a law and order situation. “Police will be deployed everywhere. Police will act in a stringent manner if any of the taxi owners break the law. We will severely punish those found violating the law,” Dhavalikar stated.   

Inspector General of Police Jaspal Singh stated that the police have identified vulnerable points for additional deployment over and above the planned police deployment across the state.   

Speaking about the issue of speed governors and meters, Dhavalikar explained that the tourist taxi operators were informed well in advance about the strict implantation of the rules. “By now, the tourist taxis have been granted around six years for installation of taxi meters and two years for the installation of speed governors,” he said.   

It was pointed out that the cost of a speed governor is around Rs 6,000 to Rs 10,000.   

The Transport Minister further pointed out that the installation of speed governors is a Supreme Court decision while that of five-in-one meters equipped with printers, hire/free sign atop the taxi and a panic button, has been mandated by the High Court.   

When asked about his next course of action, Dhavalikar declared, “We will consider rolling back all the benefits such as schemes and subsidies if they agitate violently. We have helped them with insurance. In addition to this, subsidy has been given for buying new taxis. A total of Rs three crore has been spent on this subsidy alone. Yet, they did not even serve a notice of strike.”   

The state government expects not more than 10,000 taxi owners to participate in the strike and has readied a fleet of 80 cranes to clear roads in case of blockades using vehicles.