“Instead of banning our few diesel vehicles, the government should ban private diesel vehicles and not only them, but also MCD trucks, PCR vans and telecom towers which are using diesel fuel to run them. Why only blame us?” says Jaggi a local taxi operator in New Delhi.
Ban on diesel vehicles plying on Delhi roads has taken a socio-political turn as individual cab owners and drivers of such vehicles are threatening to commit suicide if the Supreme Court does not reconsider its decision.
Mayhem on roads On Monday, the first working day, since the Supreme Court directive on Saturday, blocking of traffic between Gurugram and Delhi on National Highway-8 or on Delhi’s Ring Road (near Ashram Chowk and Dhaulakuan) and various other parts was a common feature.
Those endorsing the Supreme Court directive said had the taxi owners or drivers abided by the apex Court and converted their vehicles to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) they (the cab owners) would not have faced the deadline. The Court has already extended the deadline twice.
However, the operators felt such a decision would ruin their lives and it is all because of taxi aggregators like Ola and Uber.
Jaggi said while he has very few diesel vehicles in his fleet, there are so many other operators who are affected because of the ban, and many of them will have no money for equated monthly instalments (EMI) to repay the cost of the vehicles they have purchased.
According to industry estimates, there are around 35,000 diesel vehicles running on Delhi roads. But, there are also diesel run three-wheelers which deliver LPG cylinders.
RC Bhargava, Chairman, Maruti Suzuki India, said there are around six-lakh diesel cars in Delhi, and ‘about a third of them are from the pre-Bharat Stage emission regime’. Such vehicles should be taken off the roads instead of the government banning new diesel vehicles that are much less polluting, he said.
“Such decisions would not solve the pollution issue, but would make tour operators suffer even though they have ‘National Permit’. They cannot convert their diesel vehicles into CNG because it is not possible. Though there are some companies who do the conversion, the cost involved is hefty and secondly not advisable also,” said SP Singh, President, Indian Foundation for Transport Research and Training (IFTRT).
He also said it is now time for the Delhi government to work with neighbouring states such as Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh to be treated as one because NCR includes these states as well, especially because of 100s of companies (including BPOs) are situated in these neighbouring states and people from Delhi are commuting on daily basis to and fro.
While on the one hand, these taxi operators are complaining, on the other, there are many opportunists who look for such bans to increase their business prospects. For example, self-drive service provider Myles feels that the electric and hybrid vehicles in its fleet further contribute to the overall objective of a clean and green Delhi.
“While we await the exact ruling from the Supreme Court, we are not required to ply as per the norms applicable for the point-to-point city taxi services in Delhi or any other city. Additionally, self-drive and car sharing services like Myles have proven to be environment friendly options for driving within cities across the world because they reduce the over all addition of cars in a city,” Sakshi Vij, Founder of Myles, said.