Cabbies block roads, taxi crisis hits Delhi for 2nd day

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Published: May 3, 2016 10:22:27 PM

A crisis of taxis hit the city for the second successive day today with harried commuters battling searing heat amid protests and a traffic gridlock, prompting the city government to urgently meet representatives of cab operators.

A crisis of taxis hit the city for the second successive day today with harried commuters battling searing heat amid protests and a traffic gridlock, prompting the city government to urgently meet representatives of cab operators.

Traffic crawled across the city as diesel cab drivers blocked key roads connecting the city to neighbouring Noida and Gurgaon.

Transport Minister Gopal Rai met a number of taxi operators at the Delhi Secretariat who threatened to lay a “siege” to the capital in the absence of any governmental intervention to stop impounding of diesel cabs running on All India Permits.

The government also moved the Supreme Court seeking time to phase out diesel taxis after which the court set a two-day deadline and asked it to submit a detailed plan in this regard.

The operators have been asked by the government to submit their proposals tomorrow, when the SC-constituted Environment and Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) will also meet to discuss the issues arising from the ban imposed by the apex court.

Rai told reporters that the Supreme Court order dated April 30, that put an end to the plying of diesel-run cabs in the national capital, had no reference to vehicles running on All India permits and that had created a lot of confusion.

“The written order is ambiguous on the status of cabs running on national permits leading to the confusion. It also gave ammunition to the Opposition to spread rumours. So we have moved the SC to dispel the confusion,” Rai said.

One of the transport operators, Balwant Singh Bhullar, who was present at the meeting, said the authorities were “unlawfully” booking and impounding cabs ferrying passengers to places outside Delhi resulting in panic among the cabbies.

Rai promised to look into the issue and asked the operators to provide copies of challans to the Transport Department after which the government may reimburse the penalty recovered from them. “But we will take up cases where enforcement departments of the transport department are involved and not the traffic,” he said.

He said the drive against diesel taxis running on local permits and surge pricing by app-based cab aggregators like Uber shall continue.

Heavy traffic congestion was reported from various areas of the city largely due to protests by cab drivers.

The congestion, reported from arterial roads such as the Delhi-Noida Direct flyway during the morning rush hours affected thousands of office-goers, who got stuck on the roads with unrelenting heat adding to their woes.

Although many bottlenecks, including the one near Radisson Blu Plaza on National Highway 8 that connects Delhi and Gurgaon, were cleared by the Traffic Police by 12 PM, the ripple effect was visible in the form of long tailbacks.

Cab drivers blocked traffic at DND Flyway for about 45 minutes protesting against action by enforcement agencies following the Supreme Court’s decision to ban diesel taxis in Delhi.

“Traffic was today affected for 45 minutesu00a0from 9.45 AM to 10.30 AM. Traffic was affected yesterday for 20 minutes as well,” DND Flyway spokesperson Anwar Abbasi said.

District Magistrate NP Singh had issued directions to all IT, other companies and transporters to get diesel cabs converted to CNG. Over 20,000 cabs are running for companies in Noida, ferrying their employees.

Traffic volume on the busy thoroughfares such as Vikas Marg, especially areas in and around ITO, went up due to ongoing repair work on Bhairon Marg and desilting of a canal near Karkari More.

The Supreme Court had last Saturday, refused to give more time to cab operators to convert to CNG and put a ban on diesel cabs in the city from May 1, a decision that affected over 27,000 diesel-run vehicles, many of them linked with app-based cab aggregators like Uber and Ola.

Traffic Police have launched a massive drive, booking the cabbies and impounding their vehicles, riling a large number of taxi drivers which prompted the Centre to consider urging the apex court to review its decision.

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