The Delhi government today moved the Supreme Court seeking more time to implement its Saturday order to remove from the roads 30,000 taxis which are running on diesel of petrol and not on CNG as mandated by the court.
The Kejriwal government agreed that it is ready for removal of these taxis on phase by phase basis and will soon submit a proposal to this effect to the court. The government’s petition came after protests by taxi owners crippled traffic in Delhi for the second straight day
"We are committed to tackling pollution as you lordship is aware of various steps the government is taking but in this case a crisis has arisen," the state government told the court during a hearing on its request seeking implementation of the ban on diesel cabs in a phased manner.
"We also don't intend to cause a human problem, but whenever these steps are taken, it does lead to some initial inconvenience," Chief Justice TS Thakur said.
The court has given the government time till 5 pm today to come up with a detailed and workable plan on phasing out diesel cabs and converting them to CNG. It will examine the government's suggestions tomorrow.
The Delhi government's request was necessitated by protests by angry cab drivers who blocked major highways including the DND expressway today, bringing peak-hour traffic to a standstill for hours.
The court initially refused to admit the plea on the mere ground of protests by taxi owners saying "If ten persons come together it's not a matter for us to intervene."
On Saturday, the Supreme Court had, in a special hearing, refused to extend the April 30 deadline it had set for taxis to switch from diesel and petrol to CNG.
It is to be noted that Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari yesterday said that the government will ask the Supreme Court to reconsider the ban on diesel cabs.
A 2014 World Health Organisation survey of more than 1,600 cities ranked Delhi as the most polluted, partly because of the nearly 10 million vehicles on its roads. The Supreme Court has been pressuring authorities to reduce dangerous levels of haze and dust that choke the city, with a string of orders last year including a ban on new, large diesel cars, mainly SUVs.
The Chief Justice led bench had during a special hearing on Saturday asked : “Why no difference is made out in pollution level in Delhi, even after steps have been taken like odd-even scheme, diversion of trucks from the national capital. What are the solutions
The SC had however allowed Delhi Police to buy 190 diesel vehicles for VVIP security, transporting prisoners, towing other vehicles etc. subject to payment of 30% green cess. It also refused to extend the deadline for all petrol and diesel taxis
The bench said ban on registration of diesel run SUVs of more than 2000 CC will continue till the court took a decision on imposing green cess on all diesel vehicles
The court referred to its environment panel plea of all India permit diesel taxis to be exempted from ban
SC also allowed registration of 2000 CC plus vehicles to be purchased for public utility purpose.