Pune: The Maharashtra government has approached Tata Motors Ltd to supply its Indica passenger car at a discount to Mumbai taxi drivers, whose rickety old Premier Padmini cabs have been ordered to be taken off the city’s roads by the state transport authority. It is talking to the auto maker to supply the Indica to 55,000 taxi drivers in Mumbai, labour minister Nawab Malik said.
“I have already had a first round of talks with the company and they have agreed to a Rs20,000 discount on each car supplied,” Malik said on Tuesday.
“I have requested them to increase the discounts and they will come back with a fresh proposal in the next two days,” he said.
The proposal will help taxi drivers whose cars are headed for the scrapyard as well as boost production and employment in the Primpri-Chinchwad auto manufacturing belt near Pune, where the economic slowdown has caused about 150,000 contract workers to lose their jobs.
A Tata Motors spokesperson said the company was in talks with the Maharashtra government and had made an offer, adding it was premature to comment further.
All taxis that are 25 years old or more were ordered by the transport authority to be taken off the roads beginning December amid concerns over growing air pollution in Mumbai. About 6,000 taxis have already been grounded.
Malik said Maharashtra would lobby with the Centre and the municipal corporation to waive duties on the new cars, while the state government would drop the value-added tax in an effort to make the new purchase affordable for the taxi drivers.
A.L. Quadros, general secretary of the 40,000-strong Mumbai Taximen’s Union, said some cabbies had come together to strike a deal with rival Maruti Suzuki Ltd, which he claims was offering a Rs50,000 discount on its Omni model.
“It is a low-budget car and after discounts, at least 700 taxi drivers have bought the car in the last few days. Another 600 have already booked the car and banks are processing their loan applications right now,” Quadros said. “Tata Motors gave us an offer of Rs35,000 discount a couple months ago, but that still makes the car expensive for us.”