The Supreme Court on Tuesday relaxed its ban and allowed about 64,000 diesel taxis, running on all-India tourist permits, to ply in the national capital region on point to point basis within Delhi and
The Supreme Court on Tuesday relaxed its ban and allowed about 64,000 diesel taxis, running on all-India tourist permits, to ply in the national capital region on point to point basis within Delhi and the NCR till the expiry of their permits, ranging from one to five years.
A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justices A.K. Sikri and R. Banumathi modified its order passed on April 30 barring diesel taxis in Delhi till they are converted to CNG-fitted vehicles. It said no new diesel taxis will be registered and the ban on registration of diesel cars of 2000cc and above will continue.
The bench after hearing senior counsel and amicus curiae Harish Salve, solicitor-general Ranjit Kumar and the counsel for various others in a brief order said the existing all-India tourist permits will be converted to AITP-O permits, which will be allowed in NCR for point-to-point services, like those used by business process outsourcing (BPO) firms. It said that such taxis will be allowed to run only if they comply with the government requirements of safety, security and fare structure to prevent surging of fares. The court made it clear that new city taxis will only be registered if they run on petrol, compressed natural gas or dual fuel. Further, new all-India tourist permits will be labelled AITP-N and they will not be authorised to offer point-to-point services in the NCR.
When the Chief Justice wanted to know whether the Centre could put in place specific rules under the Motor Vehicles Act, the solicitor-general said that NCR-specific rules would be difficult to formulate, as the AITP rules were meant for the whole country.
Kapil Sibal, appearing for National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) assured the court that all its future contracts would ensure that cabs will only be non-diesel cabs.
The solicitor-general had argued on Monday that vehicles are not the only source of pollution in Delhi, but there are also other sources like road dust etc. He added diesel is not “the only devil,” but CNG and petrol vehicles also contribute to pollution in the NCR. However, the Chief Justice observed that the government was not enforcing rules to curb pollution and it can’t undermine vehicular pollution.
In its submissions, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) cited an IIT Kanpur report to show that only 2 per cent of the total PM2.5 emissions in the national capital region came from all passenger vehicles, including petrol, diesel as well as CNG-powered vehicles.
SIAM argued that BS-IV cars are 25 per cent more fuel-efficient than previous generation ones. Senior counsel A.M. Singhvi, appearing for SIAM, argued that the initial cost of the diesel cars is higher and it is the most-taxed commodity after tobacco. He argued that only 0.5 per cent of the 2 per cent pollution caused by passenger vehicles was due to BS-IV compliant vehicles. The Supreme Court bench directed the matter to be listed for further hearing in July.