Maharashtra auctions taxi permits in Mumbai
A cash-starved transport department has fetched a whopping Rs 105 crore when it auctioned nearly 4,000 lapsed taxi permits. Against the reserved price of Rs 1 lakh, a Nagpur infrastructure firm had offered the highest bid of Rs 2.61 lakh for each permit. It is probably for the first time that taxi permits were auctioned in the country. “There were quite many firms in the race. As the Nagpur firm’s bid was the highest, the department is allotting it 4,000 taxi permits. The firm will operate the taxis in a phased manner, over one-and-a half years. They will be six- to seven seater taxis,’’ a senior official said. In September 2010, then transport minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil and transport secretary C S Sangeetrao had moved a proposal for the auction of the lapsed taxi permits. “In Mumbai, there are well over 16,000 taxi permits, which have not been renewed for more than a decade. The transport department has declared them as lapsed permits,’’ he said. The department had proposed that instead of renewing the permits against the annual renewal fee of Rs 100, it would be appropriate if the lapsed permits were auctioned on an experimental basis and offered to a firm with the highest bid. It was proposed that the bidder would have to submit a bank guarantee of Rs 50 crore and provide a performance guarantee of Rs 5 crore. The air-conditioned taxis will have a GPS system as well as a radio phone facility. Once the exercise is over, the official said, Mumbai will have 4,000 high-end taxis, with a sitting capacity ranging between five and seven. "We have proposed a new colour combination for the new taxis,” he said.