The Supreme Court Tuesday gave the Delhi government two days to come up with a plan to phase out diesel taxis in the city that was gridlocked for the second day by protesting cabbies.
As mile-long jams brought the city to a halt and operators blocked roads against the top court’s ban on diesel taxis, the Kejriwal government rushed to the court, requesting the order be implemented in a phased manner.
The ruling had led to a “human problem” and also created a law and order situation, it said.
It didn’t intend to create a human problem, the court said. “Some inconvenience is caused whenever an order is implemented, as it did when SC directed conversion of buses to CNG. You give us specific suggestion on how do you want to enforce the order,” a bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur said.
The court agreed to look into the government’s plea but hinted it wouldn’t review or recall the order aimed at cleaning Delhi’s air, rated the filthiest in the world.
“The first order was given in 1998 under which all commercial vehicles had to run on green fuel. But companies kept selling diesel cars and people took chances by purchasing them,” it said.
The court’s refusal to extend the April 30 deadline for diesel cabs to switch to the cleaner CNG has taken 50,000 taxis off Delhi roads, hitting commuters and drivers.
The court though was unimpressed with the law and order plea. “If ten people come on the road and block traffic, it is no reason for us to intervene,” the CJI said.
The government was meeting all stakeholders over two days after which it would have the plan ready, senior counsel CU Singh and advocate Chirag M Shroff told the court.
The court suggested steps such as financial assistance to help drivers buy a new vehicle or convert the existing one to CNG. Drivers say the ban will put many of them out of jobs and also leave them with unpaid loans.
“Please indicate whether you intend to stop registration of new diesel commercial cars,” the court said. It also asked the government if it wanted cut-off dates, for instance cars older than 10 years could be the first to be taken out of service.
The court had on December 16 ordered diesel taxis off city’s roads but later agreed to give operators time till March 31 and again extended the deadline by a month.
Diesel is one of the main contributors to vehicular emissions and the court has imposed a green cess on trucks entering the Capital and has banned heavy commercial vehicles from passing through Delhi.