Maharashtra defers SOS button norm in taxis, seeks clarity

MUMBAI: Though state transport department has issued a circular making it mandatory for all public transport vehicles, including kaali-peeli taxis and BEST buses in Mumbai, to install vehicle-tracking devices and emergency buttons, it has deferred the implementation.

A senior official said unless there was a proper infrastructure to track vehicles and attend to emergency calls from passengers, it would be futile installing the gadgets in vehicles.

There is also strong opposition from taxi unions, with Swabhiman Union and Mumbai Taximen’s Union planning to agitate if cabbies are compelled to install GPS devices at their own cost. They demanded that the vehicle-tracking device, which costs Rs 12,000 per piece, should be funded by the government.

The new rule, which is in effect from April 1, is in accordance with directives from the ministry of road transport and highways. Senior officials, however, told TOI that the department would enforce the rule “gradually”.

“We have written to the Centre, seeking clarity on the new rule. We want to know whether it applies only to vehicles that are registered after April 1. And if it applies to all kaali-peelis, buses and other vehicles, is there is a system for the city police to have a control room monitoring the emergency distress calls,” he asked.