Striking a balance
Taxi drivers in the national capital are terribly unhappy against the Supreme Court’s recent ban on diesel taxis. To mollify agitating taxi drivers, the Centre said that it will ask the apex court to reconsider its ban. Previously, this column had hailed the court’s decision after it took real cognizance of the health hazards caused by diesel fumes. But on Monday, when hundreds of taxi drivers blocked National Highway 8 and the Ring Road to protest against the court’s decision, another concern came to light. According to Delhi transport department, about 60,000 taxis are registered in the national capital of which 27,000 run on diesel. 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.
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. The government has been careful not to step on the court’s toes. But it has presented a compelling case. Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said that the government “respects” Supreme Court and is committed to the issue of environment and has already taken a slew of steps to curb pollution. The Minister made a reference 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. To the uninitiated, road dust is earthen material or dirt that becomes airborne, primarily by the friction of tires moving on unpaved dirt roads and dust-covered paved roads. Although taxis must comply with the court order as soon as possible, a little more time should be given.