On a day when the Supreme Court allowed diesel taxis with all India tourist permit (AITP) to operate within the national capital till their permit expires as reported by news agency ANI, the National Democratic Alliance government constituted a three-member committee to prepare a policy framework for taxi and other transport operators.
“The ministry has decided to set up a three-member committee to look into these issues and come up with appropriate policy recommendations to address the same in a time-bound manner,” the ministry of road transport and highways said in a statement issued on Tuesday.
The committee will be headed by road transport secretary Sanjay Mitra. The other two members will be joint secretary in the ministry Abhay Damle and Delhi’s transport commissioner.
The committee has been formed after a meeting of taxi and other transport operators with Nitin Gadkari, road transport minister on Monday, with the Environment Pollution Control Authority being against diesel taxis plying in the National Capital Region (NCR).
“No time frame has been set for the committee to present its report yet though the work will be done in a time-bound manner,” said a road transport ministry spokesperson.
Though according to the 30 April apex court judgement AITP taxis were exempt from the ban, they were not allowed to operate within the national capital as point-to-point cabs, which is now allowed as per the order issued on Tuesday.
The apex court on 30 April imposed a complete ban on non-compressed natural gas (CNG) taxis in New Delhi refusing to extend the April deadline for diesel-run taxis to switch to CNG. The court stated that sufficient time was given to private taxi operators for conversion of their vehicles to CNG.
Following the earlier judgement, taxi unions called for a massive protest on 2 May with hundreds of taxi drivers, including AITP taxi drivers who are exempted from the ban, blocking the roads.
According to a Delhi state transport official who didn’t want to be identified, there are 79,606 registered taxis out of which 30,000 are fuelled by diesel.
Following the mass protests on 2 May, a meeting attended by Nitin Gadkari, heavy industries minister Anant Geete and environment and forest minister Prakash Javadekar was held. It was decided that the government would be requesting the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision on diesel cab ban in NCR as it has led to an unprecedented situation of chaos in the capital.
Speaking to reporters on 2 May, Nitin Gadkari said, “The government has decided to request the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision on ban. The ban has created an unprecedented situation of thousands of taxis getting off road and people facing severe hardships. That is why we have decided to update the Court on all the measures we had taken in the last two years to curb the pollution.”
According to the World Health Organisation, Delhi has been declared the most polluted capital in the world. The Aam Aadmi Party-led government is looking to bring down highly alarming pollution levels with schemes such as the much debated odd-even policy aimed at reducing the pollution levels.
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