Hours after the protests by auto-rickshaw drivers in Panchkula and SAS Nagar, the Chandigarh administration in a meeting on Thursday allowed the Bharat Stage III (BSIII) diesel autos registered in the two towns to ply in UT till March 31.
Earlier, the administration had imposed a ban on entry of these autos starting November 1. State transport authority (STA) additional secretary Rajiv Tewari said the plying of these diesel autos would be further regulated over the weekends.
“Since there is less demand on public holidays, therefore, the diesel autos with odd registration number will be permitted on Saturdays and with even registration numbers on Sundays till December 31,” said Tewari.
He further said phasing out of diesel autos would start from January 1, 2015.
From January 1, BSIII diesel autos with odd registration numbers will be permitted on odd dates, while autos with even registration numbers will be allowed to ply on even dates till March 31, 2015.
Starting April 1, only LPG auto-rickshaws will be allowed to operate in the city. Such autos registered with the UT will be given contract carriage permit for Chandigarh, SAS Nagar and Panchkula.
STA has also decided to give subsidy of up to `20,000 for LPG auto-rickshaws purchased and registered with the STA on or after November 1. The subsidy will be credited directly to the loan account of the LPG auto-rickshaw purchaser after one year of registration. The administration has tied up with Punjab National Bank (PNB) for providing finance, and the bank has agreed to provide loan at lower rate of interest. It was in 2002 that the Supreme Court had issued directions for the conversion of all public vehicles, including petrol- and diesel-driven buses, taxis and three-wheelers, to those run by compressed natural gas (CNG).
Later, in 2009 the apex court ordered for preparation of a scheme for compulsory switchover to CNG/LPG as automotive fuel. Subsequently, to make the city pollution-free, the Chandigarh administration issued an order for phasing out diesel autos by August 8, 2009, but the direction was not enforced.