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Uber continues to struggle in Karnataka, transport minister denies request for intervention

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Taxi-hailing app Uber is finding it tough to deal with government’s new aggregator rules in Karnataka. According to ET, the company recently wrote a letter to the Transport Minister, Ramalinga Reddy asking him to intervene. However, Reddy has reportedly refused to get into the controversy saying that the matter was pending in high court.

In its letter, Uber termed the new regulations as regressive in nature and practically impossible to comply with. It has particularly raised questions on few mandatory clauses in regulations.

These clauses require Uber to maintain a minimum of 100 registered fleets, impose capped fare, install panic buttons, GPS Tracking systems, and physical meters with printers in taxis. Uber has termed these clauses “unfortunately redundant and similar to the radio taxi scheme introduced by Karnataka way back in 1998”. It wrote,

[Uber] would be grateful if you can kindly direct the authorities concerned to look into our submissions on mandatory clauses, which are not only regressive, but also practically impossible to comply with.

The company also reiterated its commitment to work with the state government in framing new and progressive rules which support innovation and champion ease of doing business. Uber also made a case for its contributions to increasing job opportunities in the state.

In Karnataka… we have committed an economic contribution of Rs. 99 crore towards creating livelihood opportunities to over 20,000 more driver partners in the next 5 years,

the letter read.

However, the minister responded that authorities had framed these rules keeping customers in mind. He also said that Uber has been charging unfairly more than the fixed rate.

Now there is no question of my intervention. They have gone to court against the rules, let the court decide,

Reddy said.

Clash of Uber and Karnataka Transport department

In another letter written on June 7, Uber had reported about its tussle with the transport department. The cab aggregator said that they had already submitted the required documents with Transport department for 100 vehicles to get the license.

However, your office refused to accept our documents or even acknowledge our document submission. In view of this, we are submitting all the documents through Speed Post acknowledgement due today,

wrote Uber to the Transport Minister.

Post this incident, the transport department had also reiterated that Uber was free to go to any RTO in the state if it thought that any particular RTO was biased against it. Transport Commissioner Rame Gowda had told the ET,

No one in my department has any bias in favour of or against any aggregator. If they (Uber) still have issues and nurse any inhibitions, then they can meet me personally and submit the papers to me. I will have the documents processed myself if they are in order and take things forward.

Karnataka government had earlier banned online taxi aggregators from operating in the state without any permits. Ola succeeded to get a license while documents of Uber were rejected.

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