March 25, 2015 / 7:30 AM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-Delhi govt asks federal ministry to block Uber, Ola apps

(Recasts lead, adds details)

NEW DELHI, March 25 (Reuters) - New Delhi authorities on Wednesday asked India’s federal information technology ministry to block the taxi-hailing apps of U.S.-based Uber and its local rival Ola in the city in a bid to enforce a ban on the companies’ services.

India in December ordered all unregistered web-based taxi companies to halt operations until they obtain an operating licence after a driver contracted with Uber was accused of rape.

The ban, however, has largely been ineffective and both Ola, backed by Japan’s SoftBank Corp, and Uber have continued to operate in Delhi while their licence applications are pending.

The Delhi authorities told Uber and Ola to stop operating if they want their licence applications to be processed. Now, the city believes blocking the apps is the only way to enforce the ban, a Delhi government official said, declining to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

A spokesman for Uber declined to comment, while Ola did not respond to a request for comment. Officials at the federal information technology ministry were also not immediately available for comment.

Online taxi companies see a lot of potential in India, a market Ola estimates to be worth between $8 billion and $10 billion.

The India ban is the latest in a slew of global problems facing Uber, which has come under scrutiny for alleged violations, including using unlicensed drivers. (Reporting by Aditya Kalra; Editing by Malini Menon and Miral Fahmy)

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