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Apex Court of India bans non-CNG taxis on Delhi Roads

New Delhi: The Supreme Court in New Delhi turned down the plea to extend the April 30th deadline for petrol and diesel cabs. The court has indicated the fleet owners to either switch to less polluting fuel or stop operating cabs on the roads of the capital city. The decision has been implemented from 1st May, Sunday, making around 35,000 cabs ineligible to run on Delhi roads.

The pleas from taxi operators’ association and from several other individual taxi operators failed to convince the bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justices AK Sikri and R Banumathi, which quoted that the court has been making efforts since 1998 to clean Delhi's air, and has already granted several extensions to taxi operators to switch to CNG vehicles.

The decision will impact the day-to-day life of around 200 thousand commuters, and will put the city’s already stretched public transportation system under more stress. "We cannot extend the deadline. You have to comply with our order. We extended many times and we cannot keep extending it," said the Supreme Court bench on Saturday, pushing that diesel and petrol cabs will have to go off the roads.

The decision is anticipated to largely impact the large fleet operators, which cater working professionals, who work across several sectors in NCR besides the capital city. According to the Delhi Statistical Handbook, around 80,000 taxis are registered in the capital and majority of them run on diesel. The operators which earn their bread and butter through driving, appealed the court, saying their livelihood will get affected, raising the practical problem of availability of CNG in all areas of Delhi, but all the efforts were in vein.

It may be noted that the city has more than 5,071 radio taxis, 3,435 economy radio taxis and 22,138 tourist taxis or those with the all-India tourist permit. Another 12,000 odds are registered under the `rent-a-cab' scheme as local `kaali-peeli` taxis and 1,864 as 10-seater taxis. Interestingly, the number of taxis in the city has consistently gone up in the past few years as demand for cab services has increased. The number of taxis in 2010 was 57,958, which went up to 69,780 in 2011. It was 70,335 in 2012-13 and increased to 79,606 in 2015.

According to a recent report published by Techsci Research, “India Radio Taxi Services Market Forecast and Opportunities, 2020”, Radio taxi services market in India has been exhibiting strong growth over the last few years with Tier-I and Tier-II cities witnessing vast improvements in their transportation systems. With changing travellers lifestyle and preferences, an increasing number of people in the country, especially corporates, prefer well-maintained, on-time taxi services, which is majorly addressed by organized radio taxi service providers in the country. Organized radio taxis provide safe, reliable and comfortable travel experience to commuters, along with various other facilities like online booking/payment option, booking through applications, 24x7 availability, discounts, etc. On account of these benefits offered by radio taxi operators, customers are increasingly shifting from traditional unorganized taxis to organized radio taxis.

As per TechSci Research, the decision is poised to impact the radio taxi market adversely by raising the situation of trauma among large fleet operators. The decision will also put the small players under additional load, and will raise the operational difficulties in doing business.

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