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Taxi issue inconclusive as minister remains absent.

Panjim: The government-appointed committee formed to resolve the issues of tourist taxi operators has accused the Tourism Department of failing to protect local business.Demanding a crackdown on illegal rental car operations, the committee, at its meeting held at the Secretariat on Monday hinted that the authorities were under pressure not to act against the blatant violation. The meeting, however, remained inconclusive as Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar was not present for the second consecutive meeting.“Tourist taxi operators are suffering loss in their business since private vehicles are given on rent to tourist(s) illegally. This illegal hiring of vehicles should be stopped,” committee member and Calangute MLA Michael Lobo told the committee seeking quick action.Lobo also reminded the committee to implement the display of fare charts, revision of fares and setting up free basic facilities like toilets for the tourist taxi drivers as promised by Tourism Department. “There are conflicts between taxi operators and tourists on overcharging. The display of fare charts in the vehicles and hotel besides other tourist locations will solve the problem. Moreover, the tariffs are not revised yet,” he said. Benaulim MLA Caetano Silva seconded these inputs.“The Tourism and Transport departments have to put things in place. The implementation is not being done,” the MLA said questioning who was stopping the authorities from acting against the illegality. The police and transport department had recently formed special squads to crackdown on the rent-a-cars, as they do not posses licences. The drive was abruptly suspended after the operators threatened an agitation if their pending demand to regularize the business is not met.With the alleged illegal operations rampant along the coastal stretch, tourist taxi operators went off the roads in April demanding action against illegal rent-a-cab and related businesses. Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar had then ordered forming a panel to submit a report within 30 days. The 11-member committee is yet to fix another meeting even as the deadline to submit the report inches closer. [H]

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