Stating that the ban on diesel taxis in the NCR will lead to “loss of jobs of thousands” and “serious commuting problems”, Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Monday said his ministry will request the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision which has given rise to an “unprecedented situation”.
Gadkari told reporters that the central government has taken several initiatives to mitigate air pollution and these will be placed before the Supreme Court to support the request for reconsideration of the ban on diesel taxis in Delhi and NCR.
A study by IIT Kanpur, he said, has also suggested that vehicular pollution is not the only cause of pollution in Delhi. “In fact, the study shows that vehicular pollution contributes 9 per cent in summer and 19 per cent in winter,” he said.
“Many initiatives taken in the last two years need to be properly presented to the Supreme Court in letter and spirit. The government is considering all necessary steps to reduce pollution in Delhi. We have decided to again put forward all these points to the Supreme Court and request it to reconsider the decision in the background of initiatives taken by the Government of India,” he said.
Gadkari made the announcement after discussing the issue with the ministers of heavy industries and environment, forests and climate change.
He said the ban has created an “unprecedented situation” for thousands of taxi drivers who have been ordered off the roads. “The ban has resulted in immediate loss of jobs of thousands of people and also serious commuting problems for working men, women and youth in the NCR, particularly those employed in the IT and BPO sectors,” he said.
He said safety issues were involved since the ban on diesel taxis will impact employees, especially in the IT and BPO sectors, who work late into the night. Non-availability of safe transport facilities will raise safety concerns.
Following the Supreme Court order, several major companies in Delhi-NCR have decided not to provide transport facilities to employees.
Citing steps that will be put forth in the plea to reconsider the ban, Gadkari said that in last two years, ministries have been working to address the issue of growing pollution in Delhi.
Initiatives include the one taken by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to implement BS-VI norms with effect from April 1, 2020 and successful completion of a pilot project on retrofitting polluting vehicles.
“Oil companies shall invest more than Rs 60,000 crore for BS-VI fuel. Standards for biofuel such as ethanol, biodiesel, electric hybrid have been notified,” he said.
Other steps taken to improve air quality, Gadkari said, include finalisation of a decongestion plan for Delhi on eight arterial roads along with a concept note on scrapping. E-toll has begun on national highways and the E-rickshaw policy has also helped reduce pollution.
On steps taken by the environment ministry, Gadkari said that at five ministerial-level meetings held with NCR states and Punjab, short-term and long-term action plans for controlling air pollution were stressed upon.
“Stubble burning has been banned in all NCR States as well as Punjab. It has reduced by 40 per cent in Punjab and 17 per cent in Haryana as compared to last year. Action was taken against non-compliant industries. Satellite monitoring of stubble-burning is being carried out. There is online transmission of data from 772 PUC centres in Delhi for better monitoring of checks on vehicular pollution in Delhi. Three non-complying units of NTPC have been closed. A comprehensive order covering all major sources of pollution has been issued by the CPCB in consultation with the Ministry of Environment and Forests, he said.
The Department of Heavy Industries, he said, has been promoting cleaner vehicles by giving incentives to buyers of hybrid and electric vehicles. It has also introduced a plan to infuse 7 million hybrid and electric vehicles on the roads by 2020 under the National Electric Mobility Mission.
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