The Supreme Court’s order banning all non-CNG cabs from plying in the NCR from May 1 has left owners and drivers of petrol and diesel cabs confused and frustrated.
Although exempt from the order, owners of cabs with All India Permits are those who resent the order the most. They alleged that on the first day of the implementation of the order, Delhi Traffic Police harassed drivers and passengers.
Sanjay Samrat, president of the Delhi Taxi Tourist Transporters and Tour Operator Association, said, “We have All India Permits, so we are officially exempt from the rule. But traffic police have challaned at least 34 of our vehicles Sunday.” He added, “It’s not as if these cabs were running point-to-point in Delhi. They were doing the usual inter-city tours, but they were still challaned.”
Meanwhile, other cab operators with vehicles having All India Permits refrained from sending out several of their taxis as they were unclear if the apex court order applied to them.
Suraj Ved, general secretary of the Delhi Tourist Taxi and Citizen Welfare Association, said most of the 40,000 vehicles he handles have been lying unused as they run on diesel, despite having the permits.
“… If a tourist tells me to take him to Agra via Qutub Minar, what do I do? Do I arrange a CNG vehicle to take him from the hotel to Qutub Minar and then switch to a diesel vehicle? I can’t possibly use a CNG one for long distances as finding CNG stations for constant refueling in other states is not easy,” he said.
He added, “No one consulted or asked our opinion… We request Transport Minister Gopal Rai to present our side in court. We all have to pay off loans and banks are not going to be lenient. We have to think about the drivers and their families as well…”
Clarifying the order for cabs running on All India Permits, Special Commissioner of Police (Traffic), Sandeep Goel, said, “The court has said two things. First, the restriction on diesel cabs running on point-to-point basis is now extended to NCR as well. Only CNG cabs can ply. Second, aggregators such as Ola and Uber can only ply CNG vehicles… Vehicles with All India Permits can ply if their drop or pick up point are outside NCR. Both cannot be within the region.”
However, he said identifying vehicles with such permits that are violating the rule is difficult. “If they have documentation showing drop and pick up points then it is fine. Else we have to stop vehicles and ask drivers and passengers where they are going and coming from and rely on what they say,” he said.
Those happiest with the orders are the drivers of black and yellow taxis in the city. For them, the ban on private diesel cabs will mean fewer vehicles for Ola and Uber and more business for them.
Commuters, meanwhile, expressed concern about the impact the order could have on cab services.
Adding to their woes, private taxi operators Sunday introduced surge price once again. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, however, warned against levying surge price. “Some taxis hv started charging surge. Surge not allowed under law. They r warned that strong action will be take against them,” he tweeted.