Fourteen years after freezing the registration of any new auto-rickshaws in Delhi, the Supreme Court on Friday lifted its ban and permitted the Delhi government to ply one lakh new auto-rickshaws on the Capital’s roads.
A special forest bench of justice KS Radhakrishnan and justice CK Prasad passed an interim order on an application moved by the Delhi Transport Authority in 2002, asking the court to lift the freeze.
Though the authority had sought plying of two lakh new autos, the court allowed the introduction of just one lakh.
With the order, the number of autos in Delhi will multiply three times. Delhi has 53,262 registered three-wheelers as on August 31, 2004. Senior transport department officials said that as on date, 55,000 auto-rickshaws — the cap fixed by the Supreme Court — cater to the 1.67 crore population of Delhi.
Simply put, there is one auto-rickshaw for 304 persons in Delhi . With the rolling out of one lakh autos, the ratio will come down to a healthy 108 persons per auto. Mumbai — which inarguably has the country’s best para-transit system — there is one auto/taxi for 66 people.
The green signal for more autos will be a boon to harried passengers who often complain of overcharging by drivers on account of the shortage.
All About Autos
The SC had on December 16, 1997 banned fresh registration of auto-rickshaws as they were running on two or four stroke petrol engines, leading to severe pollution in Delhi . It had directed replacement of old scooters by new CNG-fitted ones.
Senior counsel and amicus curiae (court’s friend) PS Narasimha said the SC delivered its order in wake of the increase in Delhi ‘s population and demand for public transport.