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Mumbai taxi issue: Govt backtracks on language row

Written by: Staff
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Mumbai, Jan 21: A day after taking a Raj Thackeray-like decision by announcing taxi permits only to Marathi speaking drivers, the state government has backtracked, saying that permit will be issued to taxi drivers who speak any local language including Hindi and Gujarati.

Citing Maharashtra Motor vehicles rules, 1989, Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said that the cabinet was acting in accordance with the rule.

"Cabinet has gone by the Maharashtra Motor vehicles rules which were framed in 1989. As per that rule, for a person to have a permit, 15 years of domicile is compulsory. And the second rule says that for a taxi badge for a driver, working knowledge of local language is necessary. The local language can be Marathi, Hindi, Gujarati..it can include anything...the knowledge of the local language is necessary, " Chavan said.

He added that drivers can obtain taxi permit if they know any of the local language, including Marathi and Gujarati.

On Wednesday, Jan 20, the government said that taxi permits will be issued only to drivers who can speak and write Marathi and have resided in the state for the atleast 15 years.

The decision by the Congress-NCP government drew flaks from all corners, with RJD Chief Lalu Prasad calling it as 'unconstitutional'.

RJD chief has also sought prime minister Manmohan Singh's intervention into the matter.

Meanwhile, A L. Quadros secretary of the Bombay Taximen"s association, which is the oldest in the city has condemned the move, calling it politically motivated.

Out of over two lakhs taxi drivers in the city, sizeable section comprises of migrants from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Uttarakhand. Nearly 4,000 taxi permits are issued every year.

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