The Delhi government requested the Supreme Court on Tuesday to lift a ban on diesel cars in a phased manner after taxi drivers held motorists to ransom and brought traffic to a halt for a second consecutive day.
As the court sought a detailed plan regarding phasing out of the diesel taxis by 4pm, the government asked for two more days to file the roadmap.
The association of diesel cabs is scheduled to meet Delhi transport minister Gopal Rai later in the day.
Scores of drivers of diesel taxis blocked three major roads on Tuesday, causing traffic jams after a Supreme Court order mandated all diesel-run taxis in the city must convert to CNG. The verdict was aimed at cleaning up Delhi’s air, considered the worst in the world.
The decision eliminated around 50,000 cabs from city roads and triggered protests by taxi unions over charges of harassment by police, who fined 140 vehicles and impounded 30.
Dozens of drivers parked their taxis on the Mahipalpur flyover leading to the Indira Gandhi International Airport, on another key road that links Delhi with Noida in Uttar Pradesh and in a south Delhi area that is linked to Gurgaon in Haryana.
In no time, hundreds of vehicles were caught up on both sides of the roads -- like on Monday.
Police reached all three spots and engaged the drivers in discussion from about 9 a.m.
“We tried to reason with them that their protest was causing hardships to people and this wasn’t fair,” said Joint Commissioner of Police Sharad Aggarwal.
“We told them that if they had issues with any judicial ruling, they must talk to the government.”
Commuters continued to suffer. Soonit Roy, who is employed with a private firm, said: “My office is located in Sector 30, and I commute to work by our office cab every day. It usually takes me about an hour to get there, but commuting has been a nightmare for the past two days. Because of a three-hour traffic jam on Monday, I reached my workplace only after 11 am. The story was the same today. The whole of NH-8 is choked because of this protest by taxi drivers. The jam stretched all the way to Dhaula Kuan.”
Aggarwal said that some of the drivers who accepted the reasoning took away their taxis. Those who refused to were taken to a police station and their taxis were impounded.
“The entire process took 45 minutes to an hour. By then, there were jams everywhere... But now, three hours after it all began, there is no traffic jam anywhere in Delhi due to any taxi protest,” Aggarwal said.
Another police officer, Ishwar Singh, said that three taxis were found illegally parked on the Rajoukri flyover in south Delhi, apparently to create a traffic jam. But they were quickly removed.