Cab operators and transport officials are pulling up their socks to switch from diesel to CNG. But they are confused about what to make of the Supreme Court (SC) order that says diesel cabs should be phased out by Thursday.
On December 16, 2015, the apex court directed that all taxis, including those operating under Ola and Uber in the national capital region, plying under city permits shall move to CNG before March 1, 2016. But, in February, the SC extended the deadline by a month, to March 31.
Travel operators said the order was only for cabs operating within the city limits.
“The order clearly said it was for inter-city services and aggregators such as Ola and Uber. Taxis operating under the All India Tourist Permit do not come under it,” said Manav Bahari of Golden Icon Tours and Travels, which operates 1,000 diesel cabs in NCR.
Madan Mohan, owner of Deneb and Pollux, a rental car service in NCR with a fleet of more than 2,000 cabs, is also confused about the SC order. He is not sure if needs to convert his diesel tourist cabs to CNG as different regional transport authorities across NCR are implementing the order differently.
Wary of the implications of the ban on diesel cabs, drivers in Gurgaon are doing extra shifts, driving for more than one cab aggregator and some are selling their vehicle to buy a CNG one.
“We are not rich to exchange cars and it is difficult,” Ram Chandra, a driver from Rajasthan, said.
Travel operators also said the SC order is short-sighted as Gurgaon is not ready to meet the surge in demand for CNG. The city has only nine CNG pumps and five more are in the pipeline. These are expected to be set up by this year-end.
“Daily consumption of CNG is 1 lakh kg. We have surplus supply now, but the demand is low,” said Rahul Chopra of Haryana City Gas Distribution Limited.
While a few private firms started phasing out diesel taxis, some are looking for economical alternatives and are promoting public transport among their employees.
The Gurgaon administration stopped registering new diesel vehicles till March 31 and issuing fitness certificates to existing ones.
Around 12,464 diesel and 707 petrol cabs ply in Gurgaon every day. In the absence of an efficient public transport network, the city depends on autorickshaws -- out of the 22,162 registered autos, 11,245 run on CNG and 10,917 on diesel.
(With inputs from Isha Sahni and Ipsita Pati)