However, it reiterated that new diesel taxis cannot be registered in the region. “These diesel taxis will have to comply with regulations of safety, security and fares,” the court said.
Experts contend that the order seeking fare compliance with government rules could affect surge pricing. On Monday, the court had ruled that diesel taxis with all-India permits will be allowed if they are ferrying BPO employees.
Many establishments in Delhi-NCR, particularly in IT and BPO sectors have late working hours and the non-availability of safe transport facilities would pose a security threat to those. Industry experts argued that a ban on them would force such businesses to move out of the NCR region. In December, the court had cracked down on diesel vehicles in Delhi to mitigate rising levels of air pollution.
On April 30, it refused to extend the deadline for diesel taxis to convert to CNG. As a result, hundreds of taxi drivers blocked National Highway 8 and the Ring Road last week to protest against the court’s decision. Moreover, since May 1, diesel taxis have not been running in the region. The move has caused chaos in the city. The ban has not only created severe hardships for many people with thousands of taxis getting off the road, but also the immediate loss of jobs to thousands.
According to Delhi transport department, about 60,000 taxis are registered in the national capital of which 27,000 run on diesel. In a bid to convince the court, the Centre referred to a study by IIT Kanpur, which says that vehicular pollution is not the only cause of pollution in Delhi. In fact, the study shows that vehicular pollution contributes 9 percent in summer and 19 percent in winter.
According to the study, road dust has been identified as the as the single biggest source (38 percent) of PM 2.5 emissions. But the same study stated that at least a quarter of all cars on Delhi’s roads run on diesel. Their survey has also shown that diesel cars are responsible for 60 to 70 percent of PM2.5 emissions from vehicles.
Another study by the Centre for Science and Environment has suggested that cars and two-wheelers contribute close to half of the particulate road from the transport sector in Delhi. This newspaper welcomes the court decision to come to a compromise with the agitating taxi drivers.