The Supreme Court’s order put a halt to all the non-CNG taxis operating in the national capital from May 1. The court had on Saturday refused to further extend the deadline fixed for non-CNG taxis to opt for CNG mode.
Though the ban came into force on May 1, the actual effect is likely to be seen from first working day, May 2. As per the records of Delhi Transport Department, around 27,000 taxis are running on diesel out of total 60,000 registered taxis. Many such vehicles have been taking commuters in and around Delhi for a long time and the stand-still of these vehicles would have a visible effect on the transport system. The move has come as another setback for cab aggregators like Ola and Uber as many diesel taxis are registered with them. The effects were also witnessed in the first day itself, with many commuters complaining about the unavailability of taxis in the NCR region.
The apex court had first set March 1 as the deadline for conversion of non-CNG vehicles to CNG mode in its verdict given on December 16, which was later extended to March 31. The deadline was again extended to April 30, but commenting on the plea to extend the deadline once again, the Supreme Court denied any further extension and ordered the concerned authorities to enforce its verdict. The transport minister of Delhi, Gopal Rai ordered his department to take strict action against any local non-CNG taxis from May 1. The transport departments of Ghaziabad, Noida and Gurugram (Gurgaon) have also been informed about the verdict and are yet to act on the same. They said, they will comply with the order once they receive the order’s copy.
There are around 9,000 diesel and petrol axis registered with Noida Transport department, a very few others run on CNG. On the other hand, Ghaziabad transport department has nearly 4,500 registered taxis and the numbers are same as with Noida. While the transport department of Delhi had reports of some 2 thousand diesel taxis opting for CNG mode in last two months, the final visible effect is yet to come. The diesel taxis are left with only two options; either to convert into CNG mode or get NOC to run in other states.
When pleaded that the SC verdict would affect the livelihood of poor drivers, Chief Justice TS Thakur commented, “We can’t keep on extending the time. We are not extending it now and not going to make any exceptions. There is technology available, you convert.”
While it is now obvious that taxis can no longer run on diesel or petrol in national capital, there is one more point to be considered – availability of CNG stations. The drivers in Gurugram are complaining over unavailability of enough CNG stations. The drivers mentioned that since there are only 10 CNG stations operating in the city, it would be impossible for taxis to get the gas owing to large number of auto-rickshaws running on CNG along with private CNG vehicles. Though the Haryana City Gas Distribution Ltd plans to set another 10 CNG stations in Gugugram, it would take time to become a reality. The issue remains unanswered in Noida and Ghaziabad also.