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Old 27th June 2015, 14:21   #61
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Went to Ladakh earlier this month and had a truly wonderful time. I found the locals extremely nice, despite the fact that they have very little, and nowhere near as avaricious as the folks we find in most tourist towns or even worse temple towns. I was amazed at the control that our driver exhibited while driving on snow and sleet, without 4 wheel drive, snow chains or even winter tires. There was also amazing cooperation by the local drivers to ensure that people could pass safely, especially where breakdowns had taken place. Saw quite a few Zoom cars and private vehicles on the trip, some of which were being driven irresponsibly (eg one guy kept halting on the climb to Khardungla so that folks from his car could lean out and take selfies).

Let's remember that Ladakh is a place where irresponsible driving by someone else could cost you your life. Hence even though I am a free market fundamentalist, I would be okay for some restrictions being placed on outsiders driving in Ladakh. The average Indian driver is not adequately trained and not adequately well mannered to be permitted to drive in truly dangerous locations like Khardungla or Changla. There was someone who had posted about locals slapping an outsider who had parked incorrectly near Rohtang. Can't blame them - slapping such folks is a must do.
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Old 27th June 2015, 20:20   #62
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Default Re: Ladakh Taxi Mafia passes resolution banning Self-drive rentals!

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Originally Posted by vibbs View Post
The letter says, "Keeping in view the above fact, we all have unanimously resolved to stop the non local vehicles from plying the local sightseeing destinations''.

It does not talk about only rental self drive cars, but rather they want to stop all non local vehicles?
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Originally Posted by hserus View Post
I will sort of contradict your signature here. Driving is a right you have available to you - nobody can take that away from you and say "only local taxis should be hired, you can't drive an out of state vehicle rental car here".
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Originally Posted by mi2n View Post
At a time when neighboring countries are opening up their roadways for Indian vehicles, this comes as a shocker! This phenomena is not new, such practices have been reported in other tourist places across India as well as a few states which regularly doles out a step-motherly attitude towards "non-local" vehicles. Nothing was yet put in black and white like this. The most damning part of the resolution "stop non-local vehicles from plying...." is the most arbitrary and clearly encroaches upon the freedom bestowed upon us by law. Where are the "Sun-film banning" litigators now?

I can appreciate Hayek's comments below; The BEST professional driver I ever experienced was a middle-aged Ladakhi man with years of experience on the Manali-Leh run. Trouble is that the WORST professional driver I ever experienced was also a Ladakhi man - young fellow with probably not a lot of experience who was hired for the Leh-Srinagar run from the Leh taxi stand. Pathetic story which I won't take time to relate here, but he endangered the lives of all passengers, was rude, unreasonable, lawless (ignoring instructions of both police and Army personnel and running through checkposts), and ultimately cost thousands in losses to the passengers paying his livelihood.

Living in Manali and knowing all about the slaps going around, I can say that the H.P.-based unionized taxi drivers break traffic laws (double-laning would be one obvious daily example) and park improperly pretty much as often as anyone else. What I've seen of unions in India is that they are not generally very interested in improving services to customers or their standards, safety or otherwise. They are interested in making money for their members, by hook or by crook. That's it.

If it could be statistically proven that more serious / fatal accidents caused by the drivers of out-of-state cars (vs. local) are occurring around Manali or in Ladakh, it would be possible to make a case there... but it's doubtful.


Three things standing out to me in the RESOLUTION are:


1) "Big Business Houses"
2) "We will not be able to sustain"
3) "Have resolved to Protest if..."

My Response?

A lot of inaccuracies / lies / poor judgement in there.

1) A local guy in Manali with ten or fifteen rental bikes hardly constitutes a "Big Business House". Rich Ladakhis in Leh didn't have the foresight five years ago to start bike rentals themselves, and Manali operators got the jump on them. So now they want to build up their own businesses on the backs of poor labor-class folks from the N. Indian plains (take a look around and see who is staffing the Leh rental operations) and eliminate competition through lawless intimidation and criminal-like tactics.

2) Simply amazing. Ladakh has sustained itself for centuries out there somehow...

3) They, like the "powerful" Manali taxi union have done, are free to protest, probably will, and are ultimately going to shoot themselves in the foot. People don't come on holiday to be intimidated / threatened, or even highly inconvenienced. They don't really appreciate being treated as merely pieces of meat from which money can be squeezed. People WILL resent the bad behavior and greed (yes), and will drive their own vehicles in greater numbers, which is what we're seeing in Manali this season, post-strike.

If the "powerful" unions want to start attacking private citizens in private cars, who DO have the right to travel on the Indian roads they've paid to maintain with their own tax rupees, there WILL be backlash of some sort: maybe lawsuits, maybe incidents of all out "warfare", maybe increasing calls for government to maintain safety and law-and-order in these regions for the sake of the average Indian traveler. In such a scenario, an order coming down from the central government, is probably ultimately going to carry more weight in the DM's office than whichever "powerful" union is exerting themselves. What are Ladakhis going to do when push comes to shove? Are they going to form secret alliances with Pakistan? With China? They might not like competition, but they're not that stupid. Ladakh belongs to India, whether they like it or not.

Compare 2005, when I first visited Leh, and now, and you see a MASSIVE increase in tourism activity. There's PLENTY of business opportunities to go around. Greed is a nasty thing.

-Eric

Last edited by ringoism : 27th June 2015 at 20:38.
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Old 27th June 2015, 20:50   #63
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Default Re: Ladakh Taxi Mafia passes resolution banning Self-drive rentals!

This is just insane. No one wants to put their car through such rough terrain no matter how capable their car is. If they continue to threaten the people to hire them, in the long run only consequence will be that there will be far less tourist traveling to Leh. What govt is doing in this case? There should be atleast some rules regarding this type of incidents.
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Old 27th June 2015, 22:14   #64
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Default Re: Ladakh Taxi Mafia passes resolution banning Self-drive rentals!

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Originally Posted by ringoism View Post
If the "powerful" unions want to start attacking private citizens in private cars, who DO have the right to travel on the Indian roads they've paid to maintain with their own tax rupees, there WILL be backlash of some sort: maybe lawsuits, maybe incidents of all out "warfare", maybe increasing calls for government to maintain safety and law-and-order in these regions for the sake of the average Indian traveler. In such a scenario, an order coming down from the central government, is probably ultimately going to carry more weight in the DM's office than whichever "powerful" union is exerting themselves. What are Ladakhis going to do when push comes to shove? Are they going to form secret alliances with Pakistan? With China? They might not like competition, but they're not that stupid. Ladakh belongs to India, whether they like it or not.
-Eric
Nicely put. I had similar doubts about taxi unions and "businessmen" when i visited srinagar in June this year. Its kind of stupid that one books a package from so far away only to realize that package does not include local taxi tours in most of the places. One has to shell out extra bucks to different taxi unions. . I was left wondering what will they do if i ever decide to drive my own car. In fact i was so disappointed with all the greed (pony rides, sledging rides) i promised my self never again to visit kashmir except for a ladhakh trip. I was planning to hire a car/bike from manali and travel all the across to srinagar. but if such is the case guess il have to take a shabby cab and rely on the drivers skill. :(

Last edited by benbsb29 : 1st July 2015 at 07:09. Reason: Trimmed long quoted post.
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Old 28th June 2015, 03:32   #65
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Default Re: Ladakh Taxi Mafia passes resolution banning Self-drive rentals!

Interstate vehicle problems are prevalent in big cities and cops tend to cause some sort of harm when you visit the state with an other state vehicle. Being constantly stopped also causes some sort of trouble.

It is good most of the times to use the services of the local driver as it will help us explore places which are remote, not known to many people, places which have permit problems etc. I have done this for most of the sight seeing places. Be it Kodai, Ooty, Goa, Chennai, Kanyakumari, Delhi etc, I have driven to all these places for the fun of driving, but once you reach a particular place, a lot of planning is required.

Like someone quoted on the forum, driving is the ultimate goal and destination is only desserts, I agree, but only when you are travelling solo. Imagine travelling with a family, needs and desires are too much to be satisfied.

When the locals prosper, the entire environment boost the spirits. Imagine when the locals are suffering, no jobs, no food, does not alone bring competition, but a lot of local mafia activities will also start. Bag Snatching, stopped in the middle of a road for stealing, physical abuse and even murder.

While the rules imposed look wrong for the outside world , what could be the source of income to these taxi walas who operate in the region. Not everyone packs the bags and the heads of for a holiday. People use services of Portals like makemytrip, yatra etc, big corporates, who may or may not use the local services, Driving crowd (like Team-BHP) drives their own vehicles
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Old 28th June 2015, 16:28   #66
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Default Re: Ladakh Taxi Mafia passes resolution banning Self-drive rentals!

Relevant to the topic but from a different region in the country:

Recently, my friend and I were in Sikkim in my own WB registered vehicle. Due to a landslide on the road to Lachung, we decided to return to Gangtok, and planned a trip to Nathu-La the next day. Little did we know what awaited us in terms of getting the permit. The hotel-owner warned us that there was no way we could get the permit to drive to Nathu-La in our own vehicle. We said, we will see the next day.

After taking some advice over the phone from adc, we lined up at the permit office very early the next morning at 6 am, and true to what the hotel owner mentioned, our request for a permit was not entertained. Some of the fellows just laughed at us when we said that we wanted to go in our own vehicle. Hell, we were not even given a blank permit form. All permit forms are with taxi operators and none of them agreed to give us a blank form on hearing that we wanted to take our own vehicle. In the next few hours, we came to know that:
(a) Nathu-La permits are issued a day in advance. If you apply today, you get permit for the next day.
(b) Due to the bad roads and inclement weather conditions at Nathu-La, the Army may or may not give the go-ahead to release vehicles on the Nathu-La route for that day. If the Army does not give permission that morning, all permits for that day are wasted.
( c) Only 70 vehicles get permits per day.
(d) The Sikkim government ensures that all the 70 permits go ONLY to the local taxi operators (yellow plates).
(e) The only exception (i.e. taking your own vehicle or any vehicle other than local taxis) would be special permits from either the Army or the Government, which is over and above the 70 count.

My friend and I activated 3 Army contacts (friends of friends etc.). Two of them came back with nada. The third was still on but didn't look too hopeful at that time.

Meanwhile on advice from some of the local taxi operators (who by that time took some pity on us but not enough to give us a blank form), we visited the Tourism ministry at the Gangtok secretariat to try our luck with a govt. permit, but when we went there, we were told that govt. permits were issued only to motorbikes (unless of course you knew a minister or high govt. official).

Very frustrated, we returned back to the permit office around 11 am. The crowd of taxi operators had cleared by then, all 70 permits given out. When I again entered the office of the permit officer, he asked me to sit down. I asked him why I should not be able to take my own vehicle to any part of my country. Having seen off the morning permit rush, he then patiently explained to me about how the Sikkim government encouraged the issuing permits to only the local taxi operators in order to generate employment and income among the locals. Since the number of permits/day were very limited and the number of taxi operators hugely exceeded that number, during the rush tourist season, each taxi operator actually got a permit in a round-robin fashion, which was about 1 permit every 2-3 days.

Surprisingly after a few more requests and some back and forth arguments, the permit officer finally agreed to give us a permit to take our own vehicle upto a point which was just 4 kms before Nathu-La. He then said that we would have to park our vehicle there, and take a taxi cab for the last 4 kms. He even called a taxi operator into his office and made arrangements for us with that guy to take us the last 4 kms.

This was a mini-victory for us after over 5 hours of frustration, and the best that one could achieve under the circumstances. We thanked the gentleman profusely and after making the necessary arrangements and paperwork with the taxi fellow, we returned to the hotel.

The rest of the story is not relevant to the topic on hand, but in case you ask 'what next', here it goes.

Sitting in our room, drinking some local brew (note: brew could be tea), suddenly I get a SMS on my phone. The SMS is from a certain Lt.Col A.U posted somewhere in J&K (friend's friend - not disclosing name for sake of privacy) to immediately go and meet a certain Major V. of xx Division in Gangtok. His boss, a certain Colonel D.B. had phoned this Major already and we would have to go to the Major's office to collect the Army permit for Nathu-La . We would be going there as "guests" of this Colonel D.B. Luckily, the Army camp was 5 minutes drive from our hotel and we quickly went there, and into the office of Major V. The Major took down our details, vehicle details and in a few minutes, got the permit ready. We were out of there soon after with an important piece of paper in our hands.

One still needs a govt issued vehicle permit from the permit office on top of this army permit, but since the army permit clearly mentions the vehicle details, the govt. vehicle permit is issued without question. It took us 15 minutes the next morning to get the vehicle permit and we were on our way.

After driving in Ladakh and Sandakphu, this drive was actually a piece of cake, but it was funny to see a single WB white plate vehicle moving single-file among all the yellow plated ones on the road to Nathu-La.

A big thanks to the INDIAN ARMY to make this possible for me.
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Old 28th June 2015, 16:58   #67
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Default Re: Ladakh Taxi Mafia passes resolution banning Self-drive rentals!

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Originally Posted by darkbull View Post
When the locals prosper, the entire environment boost the spirits. Imagine when the locals are suffering, no jobs, no food, does not alone bring competition, but a lot of local mafia activities will also start. Bag Snatching, stopped in the middle of a road for stealing, physical abuse and even murder.
So you are suggesting, when an outsider comes to my state I should not allow that guy to get a job unless all locals have a job?
As for taxi drivers in Ladakh, they can beat up all the hotel staff which comes from outside and start working in hotels. There will be ample employment.
Similarly, cities like chandigarh, goa which get lots of people from mountains during off season should ban them.

This is essentially what you are saying. Its perfect if you have this opinion, but there is something called India. India is composed of states but these states are not countries. They are states. Being a member of the country of India, I am guaranteed certain freedoms by the constitution. Constitutional freedom is being impinged here. That is the issue.

Of course, if you do hold the point that its okay, then people who hold this point should try and get their state to form an independent nation, so that laws of India do not apply there. As long as laws of the republic of India are valid there, these people are just common criminals and mafia.
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Old 28th June 2015, 20:02   #68
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Default Re: Ladakh Taxi Mafia passes resolution banning Self-drive rentals!

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So you are suggesting, when an outsider comes to my state I should not allow that guy to get a job unless all locals have a job?
As for taxi drivers in Ladakh, they can beat up all the hotel staff which comes from outside and start working in hotels. There will be ample employment.
Similarly, cities like chandigarh, goa which get lots of people from mountains during off season shou.
While I am not suggesting, I was making a point that over a period of time this could be possible when the jobs have dried up.

No one is taking over your freedom as I have not explicitly stated that you should not drive down to that particular place. You have the muscle power, you are gonna drive wherever you like. And private vehicles are not banned in that region. You face some amount of mischief but it is common

People beating the hotel management guys and taking their jobs is right as it will generate employment but showing the same anger on the road is Mafia.

You can criticise me, but it is my 2 cents.

Regarding employment, are you not facing the music. I have come across numerous articles on the newspapers in which people are refused jobs because of their religion, refused places to live in etc etc.
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Old 28th June 2015, 22:29   #69
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Originally Posted by darkbull View Post


Regarding employment, are you not facing the music. I have come across numerous articles on the newspapers in which people are refused jobs because of their religion, refused places to live in etc etc.
And now they're being denied entry based on the color of their plates. Madness, I tell you.

Edit: does anyone have any instances of Self drives being harangued to the extent of being turned away this year so far?

Last edited by mayankk : 28th June 2015 at 22:58.
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Old 29th June 2015, 00:17   #70
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Default Re: Ladakh Taxi Mafia passes resolution banning Self-drive rentals!

Really disappointing to see the state of affairs in a country which claims to be free since 1947.

I am a serving Army officer and have witnessed goondaism in the name of Taxi operators in almost the entire country.

As per our constitution, all citizens are free to travel in all parts of the country in the manner they choose. Other than a civil disturbance or Law/order situation, there is no way restrictions can be imposed.

The Nathu La incident is ridiculous. These locals are not realising that they would generate a lot of goodwill as well as money by behaving themselves , thus letting the influx of tourists increase.

Don't they realise that in today's era of twitter/whatsap, their stupidity would be costing them business.

Anyways, as Aamir Khan says..'Atithi devo bhavah', lets hope some sense prevails soon and these logjams get sorted out.

Till then, I'll travel by reading the wonderful travelogues written by fellow BHPians.
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Old 29th June 2015, 00:25   #71
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And now they're being denied entry based on the color of their plates. Madness, I tell you.

Edit: does anyone have any instances of Self drives being harangued to the extent of being turned away this year so far?
Yes, a guy has personally said that they were turned back from Khardungla pass and not allowed to go to Nubra. Taxi drivers started shouting, blocked the way and he feared for the safety of his family. He drove back to leh and contacted tourism office, but they shrugged it off saying that taxi drivers also have to make their living.

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The Nathu La incident is ridiculous. These locals are not realising that they would generate a lot of goodwill as well as money by behaving themselves , thus letting the influx of tourists increase.

.
Actually the permit and mafia problem is why I have not attempted Sikkim till now

Last edited by tsk1979 : 29th June 2015 at 00:43.
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Old 29th June 2015, 08:47   #72
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Default Re: Ladakh Taxi Mafia passes resolution banning Self-drive rentals!

OT

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Actually the permit and mafia problem is why I have not attempted Sikkim till now
But that is true for Nathu-La and not other places. And if you have contacts, you can.
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Old 29th June 2015, 11:01   #73
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Default Re: Ladakh Taxi Mafia passes resolution banning Self-drive rentals!

Team BHP being the premier automotive community in India, should tie up with the Automobile Association, car magazine community, etc. The group should together lobby the central government. A united show of force is the only thing that will work, just as the taxi union is pushing this through because they are united.

I am not denying the taxi drivers' right to make a living, but this should not be at the expense of someone else's fundamental rights. There will always be people who prefer to hire a cab than drive themselves. I myself would do that, driving to each place in the Ladakh area in my own car, and hiring a taxi IF the cabs are in good condition and driven safely. This will actually let me enjoy the scenery and take pictures than focus on safe driving. This is the problem I have when we (family) drives to scenic places; because I'm focused on driving safely on narrow, twisting mountain roads, I tend to miss a lot. The roads are typically too narrow to stop and one has to keep driving so as to not block other vehicles.

Perhaps the problem is too many taxis competing for limited demand.
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Old 29th June 2015, 13:02   #74
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Default Re: Ladakh Taxi Mafia passes resolution banning Self-drive rentals!

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Yes, a guy has personally said that they were turned back from Khardungla pass and not allowed to go to Nubra. Taxi drivers started shouting, blocked the way and he feared for the safety of his family. He drove back to leh and contacted tourism office, but they shrugged it off saying that taxi drivers also have to make their living.


Actually the permit and mafia problem is why I have not attempted Sikkim till now
Hi TSK,

I am planning to take my own vehicle this July on Spiti and Ladakh trip. Was you friend who was stopped at Khardung La driving a black number plate (self drive rental) or a white number plate?

Thanks!
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Old 29th June 2015, 13:15   #75
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Default Re: Ladakh Taxi Mafia passes resolution banning Self-drive rentals!

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Hi TSK,

I am planning to take my own vehicle this July on Spiti and Ladakh trip. Was you friend who was stopped at Khardung La driving a black number plate (self drive rental) or a white number plate?

Thanks!
It was a rental with yellow on black plate. No issues with own vehicle.
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