Beginning Sunday, only CNG cabs and taxis can operate in the Capital. The Supreme Court, which held a special sitting on a Saturday, stuck to its deadline of April 30 as the last opportunity for private taxis and cab aggregators like Ola and Uber to switch to CNG. There are about 60,000 taxis registered in Delhi and of them, 27,000 run on diesel. Given that around 2,000 diesel-run taxis have only converted into CNG mode in the last two months, there will be a considerable shortfall of CNG-run cabs and taxis from May 1 in the Capital.
The SC order is not applicable on diesel-run cabs having All India Permits and entering Delhi from other States. However, all cabs which have such permit but ply only on local routes in Delhi will be barred.
Besides its decision on the diesel-run cabs, the apex court also made it clear to the Delhi Police, which sought permission to purchase 190 SUVs meant for VVIP movement and transportation of under-trial prisoners and ammunition among others, that it will have to shell out 30 per cent of the vehicle cost as green cess, known as Environment Compensation Charge (ECC). This cess will be paid to the Transport Department at the time of registration. The apex court, however, exempted the Delhi Jal Board, which wished to purchase 250 tankers for supplying water to the city, from the cess.
Conducting the special hearing to decide on the steps to make Delhi’s air cleaner, the Bench, headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur, rapped the Centre for not taking enough steps to study possible solutions to the pollution problem. At the same time, pointing to the odd-even experiment followed by the Delhi Government, the Bench, also comprising Justices AK Sikri and R Banumathi, felt that pollution was still the same and wondered why there was no serious study to come out with possible solutions by comparing similar experiments abroad.
Although the earlier deadline of March 31 fixed by court was extended by one month till April 30, some diesel cab associations approached the court for further time.
Senior advocate Shyam Divan, who represented the cab owners, told the court that if the deadline was not extended many cab drivers would be deprived of their livelihood. “They (cab drivers) will not be able to earn a livelihood.” Moreover, these cab owners also need to repay their loans to banks, he added.
But the Bench remained unmoved. “We can’t keep on extending the time. We are not extending the deadline of April 30 any further and nor we are ready to make exceptions. There is technology available, you convert to CNG,” said the Bench.
While the diesel cars and SUVs with engine capacity of 2000cc or more are not allowed to be registered in Delhi-NCR, the Bench heard auto manufacturers on whether a one-time heavy cess could be imposed on such diesel vehicles to compensate the harm caused to environment. As the arguments remained inconclusive, the Bench kept the matter for hearing next on May 9.
The DJB wished to purchase 250 tankers for supplying water to the city. Senior advocate Indira Jaising representing DJB said that the 250 new tankers will replace 270 old water tankers that crossed the age of 10 years. The Bench exempted DJB from ECC realising that its purpose was to serve water to residents in the city.