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SC upholds diesel ban but gives breathing space to BPO industry

Vishakh Unnikrishnan | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:50 IST

The ban on diesel in the national capital is going to continue for now. On Monday, the Supreme Court did not budge from its previous decision to ban registration of vehicles with engine capacity above 2000 cc and the ban on diesel taxis. It asserted that the ban would continue until further orders.

The Supreme Court, however, relaxed its order on All-India tourist permit taxis. This was after widespread protests that raised the issue of safety of BPO employees, especially women, who are ferried in these taxis in the Delhi-NCR Region.

The ban had initially exempted All India Permit vehicles that would ply passengers outsider NCR and not within the national capital region. This meant that their drop and pick up points needed to be outside the NCR.

The relaxation of this rule would bring relief to many cab operators that run taxis in NCR. Sanjay Samrat, president of the Delhi Taxi Tourist Transporters and Tour Operator Association says that this would provide some relief as many taxis that ply within the NCR region have All India Permits.

Also read: Diesel/petrol taxi ban: 5 roadblocks the Delhi government has to clear

The National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) had also voiced concern over the ban stating that it had hit the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector. As per Nasscom, if the ban continues for six to nine months, the industry faces a potential loss of $1 billion.

The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) had suggested a slew of proposals to the Supreme Court.

According to Nasscom, the ban would have caused a loss of $1 billion in 6 months

The proposal also forms a part of the draft formula that is currently being prepared by the Delhi government in consultation with cab aggregators and automobile industry leaders.

According to sources privy to the EPCA's proposal, the body had proposed a two year extension to phase out diesel taxis and a complete ban on registration of diesel taxis.

Bhure Lal, who heads the EPCA, also informed Catch that the proposal also suggests that no further extension should be given after the current registration of diesel taxis, which lasts for 5 years.

Also read: NGT's diesel car ban hurts the industry. But will it curb pollution?

"Diesel taxis operators had enough time to switch to CNG. This last minute hullabaloo is not justified. This is the fault of the both taxi operators and the Delhi government that allowed for registration of diesel taxis," Lal said.

While this is not the final order on the matter, cab operators and automobile industry leaders are already perplexed that the government has not given an interim relief to diesel taxis within the capital.

Speaking to PTI, Toyota Kirloskar Motor Vice-Chairman and Director Shekar Viswanathan termed the ban as the 'worst advertisement of India'.

"The focus should be on improving emission standards and ensuring that all vehicles comply to Euro IV norms. That would substantially improve air quality. The current ban is just sending a negative message across the world about the Indian automobile market," says Gaurav Vangaal, senior analyst for forecasting at IHS Automotive

On Sunday, around 500 diesel taxi drivers had protested outside Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's residence, demanding that the Supreme Court's ban on diesel cabs in the NCR be lifted.

On 16 December last year, the court had extended the deadline for the conversion of diesel taxis to CNG to 1 March, 2016.

Edited by Aditya Menon

Also read: No new diesel vehicles to be registered in Delhi. At least for a while

First published: 9 May 2016, 9:02 IST
Vishakh Unnikrishnan @sparksofvishdom

A graduate of the Asian College of Journalism, Vishakh tracks stories on public policy, environment and culture. Previously at Mint, he enjoys bringing in a touch of humour to the darkest of times and hardest of stories. One word self-description: Quipster.