As protests by taxi owners crippled traffic and blocked major highways, including the DND expressway, for the second straight day, the Delhi government moved the Supreme Court seeking two more days to submit a detailed plan on how to phase out diesel cabs from the Capital, citing law and order problem and inconvenience being caused to the people.
A Supreme Court order on April 30 had pulled 30,000 cabs off the road because they run on diesel and not greener compressed natural gas (CNG).
“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, asking the government to come up with a suitable detailed and workable plan within two days on phasing out diesel cabs and converting them to CNG. The bench also asked the government to tell it how it proposes to tackle this situation and would it stop registration of vehicles. The CJI also observed that diesel for public transport was banned since 1998, yet people were taking chances.
Seeking some time to phase out diesel vehicles in a time-bound manner, senior advocate Chander Uday Singh, appearing for the Delhi government, said in the wake of the Supreme Court’s order, the diesel taxis are not plying in the city, which is causing inconvenience to the common people and had created a law and order situation. “It is a human problem. Although the Delhi government is not opposing the order and is committed to check pollution, due to this sudden move, people are facing difficulties,” he said, asking for time to make some alternate arrangements.
The Delhi government’s request was necessitated by protests by angry cab drivers who blocked major highways. On Saturday, the SC 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.