lack of active policing attributed as reason for refusals
statesman news service
Kolkata, 13 August
Despite repeated attempts by police to stop taxi drivers from refusing to take passengers, it has become a nightmarish experience for persons trying to get a taxi to reach Howrah Station from any part of the city.
The rise in the cases of taxi refusals, most of which were not reported, is due to lack of "active" policing as claimed by the commuters. A set of systems, including distributing taxi refusal cards, lodging e-complaints and dialing the helpline numbers had been introduced by the Kolkata Traffic Police to curb the problem. According to commuters the initiatives are good, but a commuter does not get time for doing all these when he/she is in desperate need of a taxi. The situation turns worst when someone is trying to get a taxi in urgency.
Mr Samrat Ghosh, a resident of Kasba, working in a private firm at Esplanade, was found in an helpless situation after being refused by several taxis to go to Howrah Station. He had to board a long-distance train at around 11 p.m. from Howrah station and he was trying to get a taxi at around 9.45 p.m. at Esplanade after his office.
A couple of taxi drivers, who agreed to take him to his destination, demanded an arbitrary fare. "The taxi drivers charged almost double," he said, adding that finally he walked down to the crossing of Ganesh Chandra Avenue and Chittaranjan Avenue, where he found a private car. Violating all norms, the driver of the private car took six persons, including Mr Ghosh to Howrah Station. He charged Rs 25 from each person. The incident took place on 10 August.
Keeping a watch on the situation in the same area for the next two consecutive days, The Statesman found that the situation remained the same . But, it seems hardly any person, who fell victim to the situation, lodged a complaint. When asked, Mr Gopinath Samanta, a resident of Konnagar in Hooghly, working in an IT shop at Chandni Chowk, said: "We are used to the situation. Even if police take action against the driver about whom I will lodge complaint, things would not change it would change. Other taxi drivers will repeat the same thing the very next day." He said earlier cards to lodge complaint against taxi refusals were easily available at police kiosks. "It will be good enough if such cards become available at petrol refilling stations, department stores and metro stations," he said.
An officer of the city traffic police said this is unfortunate as such incidents take place when Mr Surajit Kar Purakaysatha is the commissioner of the city police. The reason being the IPS of the 1985 batch had introduced the taxi refusal squad during his earlier spell in the Kolkata Police when he was the deputy commissioner of police (traffic). Policemen in plainclothes were posted at important intersections and they had booked taxi drivers whenever they refused to take a passenger. Cards to lodge complaint against refusal were also distributed during his tenure.
Most of the taxi drivers, however, claimed that they incurred loss due to police atrocities outside Howrah station and non-availability of commuters. So, they refuse to go. Mr Ajey Mukund Ranade, commissioner of police, Howrah said: "We stopped illegal parking at Howrah station for the benefit of common people and the drivers consider it as police atrocities."