A promise to crack down on overcrowded six-seaters, private cabs that flout rules

The stark absence of efficient public transport service, has led to the mushrooming of unauthorised operators within and on outskirts of the city. But, both the city traffic police and Regional Transport Office (RTO) claim that they have taken stern action against this. Officials said illegal transport service has come down, and in the future there will be significant change.

In developing peripheral areas of Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad that have infrequent bus services, citizens do not have any other choice than commuting in the six-seaters, auto rickshaws-on-sharing basis, private minibuses and buses, or even private cars. DCP (traffic) Manoj Patil says, "No one will deny that illegal transporters are operational. But the number has significantly come down with traffic police taking strong actions against them."

During a drive against these illegal vehicles the traffic-i-cop system of Pune traffic police, that uses BlackBerry phones for detection of unauthorised vehicles, has proved instrumental. Patil says, "During the drive against these transporters, we have started charging them under Section 420 of IPC and have begun initiating departmental action, which involves seizure of the vehicle and cancellation of license for few months." Such action sends them out of business and it is more effective than just the punitive measure.

These steps, though, are not the treatment for the basic ailment,the lack of public transport. Baba Shinde, a member of the Regional Transport Authority (RTA) says, "Pune needs 2,300 to 2,500 buses as against its fleet strength of 1,600. This huge gap encourages unauthorised transport. Abruptly banning these six seaters, even outside city jurisdiction, will work against commuters. They are anyways not permitted in city limits as per Supreme Court order though they often intrude into city boundaries."

Many of the vehicles have licenses to ply within or on the outskirts of the city. But the problem is they often breach their permitted area and run with stuffing more number of helpless commuters than what is allowed. Pune's regional transport officer, Chandrakant Kharatmal says, "Law enforcement is a time-consuming process. We regularly form special squads to phase out old and unauthorised vehicles. But they start mushrooming in new different areas and start operating."

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