Odd-Even: AAP government cracks down on surge pricing by cabs

New Delhi: Cracking the whip against unscrupulous taxi operators for over-charging passengers during the odd-even scheme, the Delhi government on Wednesday said it will put a stop to "surge pricing" by cabs even as it impounded 68 such taxis over the past two days. "We will bring a policy to stop surge pricing in the city by the cab aggregators," Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai said here. The sixth day of the Aam Aadmi Party government's odd-even traffic scheme saw complaints from a section of citizens against the non-availability of auto rickshaws and also that the traffic scheme aimed at battling pollution has only added to citizens' woes.  Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal hinted that "surge pricing" by cabs may be banned in the capital.  Responding to a tweet suggesting that suspension of surge pricing should continue even after the odd-even system ends on April 30, Kejriwal replied: "Yes. We will do it." A representative for app-based cab aggregator Ola when contacted merely said, "We have no comments to make on the subject at the moment." The Delhi government's transport department impounded 50 more taxis, including 35 registered outside Delhi for over-charging commuters. "We have impounded 50 more taxis following complaints from customers. All the taxis belong to various app based cab aggregators," a Delhi government official said.  On Monday,the Delhi government had seized 18 taxis belonging to Ola and Uber for over-charging commuters, taking advantage of a leap in demand for taxis during the ongoing odd-even traffic scheme. Amid criticism of and complaints against the odd-even system by some people on Facebook and Twitter, the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), which is under the union government's Ministry of Earth Sciences, said that particulate matter pollution had dipped marginally. The PM 2.5 level declined to 90.2 on Wednesday from the level of 124.6 a day ago, while PM 10 came down to 210 from 275.1, SAFAR said.  "This time odd-even of Delhi Government is not working. But a few law abiders do obviously suffer," ran one complaint on Facebook. In some places, citizens complained about auto rickshaw drivers refusing to ferry passengers and demanded that the city government crack down on three-wheelers like they have on cab aggregators. On Monday, Kejriwal threatened "strict action" over "surge pricing", a technique used by cab aggregators to hike fares in the event of high demand. After app-based cab operator Uber blamed the Delhi government for taxi shortage, Kejriwal clarified in the morning through a series of tweets that his government was not opposed to online aggregators but insisted they should obey the law. "We are not against taxi aggregators. We fully support them. They provide important service to people. But they will have to follow (the) law. "Overcharging, diesel cars, drivers without license/badges and blackmailing by taxi aggregators won't be allowed," the chief minister tweeted. On Monday, Uber and Ola had suspended surge pricing after Kejriwal threatened of stern action against overcharging by cab operators. The demand for taxis has shot up in the capital on account of the odd-even traffic scheme that commenced on April 15 and will run till April 30. Restrictions on diesel and petrol driven cars during the ongoing scheme has forced thousands of motorists to go for taxis to commute. Kejriwal has termed the surge pricing as "daylight robbery" and blamed the companies for "openly blackmailing" the Delhi government. "Surge pricing is daylight robbery. No responsible government can allow that. "Some taxis saying they will not provide cab if they are not allowed to loot. This is open blackmailing (and) government will not let that happen," he said in tweets on Wednesday. Meanwhile, former Delhi BJP chief Vijay Goel, who staged a protest on Monday and was challaned for violating odd-even norms, on Wednesday announced that he would intensify his protest against the Kejriwal regime on the issue. "The odd-even mechanism has only added to citizen's woes," he said adding that a number of citizens and representatives from various NGOs will visit the residence of AAP MLAs on April 22 and offer them a rose along with a memorandum saying that the scheme was being implemented without any ground work.