The implementation of the meters on tourist taxis is been pending for a long time now. The issue of meter always remains the subject of controversy in the state since the Tourist Taxi Operators have always remained against the installation of the digital meters on their cabs. The tourism stakeholder feels that the absence of the digital meter on tourist taxi results into fleecing of the tourists which create the negative impact on Goa’s tourism industry. To avoid any further damage to the tourism industry of Goa, the stakeholders of industry TTAG and GCCI had filed a plea in the high court last month.
According to the sources, despite filing the plea in high court the government has not taken any positive steps towards the implementation of the digital meters on the tourist taxis which has generated the resentment in the stakeholders and both the stakeholders have slammed the State government for illegally and unconstitutionally keeping in abeyance the implementation of installing digital meters on tourist taxis. The TTAG (Travel and Tourism Association of Goa ) and GCCI (Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industries) on Monday filed the rejoinder in the court against the illegal and unconstitutional act of the Goa government in the implementation of digital meters on tourist taxis.
In a rejoinder filed before the High Court of Bombay at Goa on Monday, the associations submitted that non-implementation and keeping in abeyance the amended Rule 140 are mere excuses. “The non-implementation and keeping in abeyance of the amended Rule 140 are mere excuses… The impugned notifications are unreasonable, illegal, bad in law, unconstitutional, perverse, without application of mind and in direct contravention of well established constitutional principles as well as the provisions of the Act,” the rejoinder states.
It may be recalled that, in the month of January, the TTAG (Travel and Tourism Association of Goa) along with the GCCI (Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industries) and the other Tourism stakeholders of Goa had filed a writ petition in the High Court seeking the direction to the government to implement its decision of making the digital meter compulsory for the tourist taxis in Goa.
It may be recalled that, In June 2015, the transport department had issued a notification making it mandatory for the 15,000-odd tourist taxis in Goa to install GPS-enabled digital meters. The decision, however, was subsequently kept on hold due to an agitation by tourist taxi operators. (source)
The petitioner said that the implementation of the rules has been deferred from time to time through notifications, whereas on November 11, 2016, the government issued a notification keeping in abeyance the implementation of Amended Rule 140. Goa Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Rules, 2015 requires motor cabs to be fitted with fare meters. “Every motor cab plying in the State of Goa shall be fitted with a fare meter of the digital type with printer and Global positing system (GPS) tracking device approved by the State Transport Authority from the date of notification.” The rules were notified on December 4, 2015. According to the petitioners, that comprise of businessmen and traders from Goa feel that their business have got affected due to the non-implementation of the amended Rule 140 which is resulting in the visitors to Goa, whether tourists or traders, find it difficult to commute unless they use motor cabs/taxis operated in an unprofessional manner and charge exorbitant fees.
It may also be recalled that, In the month of December 2015 the RTO had issued the circular stating that, they will not issue any more permits to the taxis in Goa if the digital meter and GPS is not implemented on the tourist taxis but now after almost one and half year the situation still remains the same. Does that mean, the RTO did not issue any permits since December 2015? (source)
According to the petitioners, the meters are compulsory for tourist taxis. The Transport Department, in its reply last week submitted that its intention to keep in abeyance the implementation was due to the ongoing code of conduct. The reply also highlighted the sensitivity of the issue as it would affect a large number of self-employed persons, many of whom are owners of a single taxi. In June 2015, the Transport Department had issued a notification making it mandatory to install meters on 15,000-odd tourist taxis in Goa. It had also incorporated a provision of granting 50 percent subsidy or Rs 5,000 towards its purchase. The implementation was, however, kept on hold owing to objections raised by some taxi operators. (source)
The petitioners have reiterated that keeping the amended Rule 140 in abeyance was illegal, without authority of the law and that it will also perpetuate the damage already caused to industries in Goa by delayed enforcement. The bench has adjourned the matter for further hearing on March 15.