The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution ( Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) has told the Delhi government to stop the registration of new diesel taxis under the All India Tourist Permit (AITP).
There are 35,000 taxis operating under the AITP licence. The EPCA says most of them violate permit conditions and ply in Delhi-NCR as regular taxis.
Advocate Aparajita Singh, assisting the Supreme Court in the air pollution case, told Chief Justice TS Thakur’s bench about the letter to the state administration. She said the environment panel would conduct a study to find the reason behind the sudden surge in such taxis.
Singh’s submission came when an association of taxi operators asked the court to exempt them from its order asking diesel cabs to switch to CNG.
The bench asked Singh and pollution control body member Sunita Narain to file a response to the operators’ petition, but as a temporary relief allowed them to ply.
The body’s concer n over the misuse of the All India Tourist Permit comes at a time when cab aggregators Ola and Uber have been accused of hiring such taxis.
Radio taxi operators have accused aggregators of circumventing the 1998 Supreme Court order mandating all commercial passenger vehicles to run on clean fuel. The aggregators claim their fleet is now CNG-compliant.
Narain said the pollution control body had directed the Delhi government to ensure AITP taxis strictly followed permit conditions that disallowed them from undertaking point-to-point travel.
“These taxis are meant for tourism and not ferrying BPO employees. Their route for Delhi is specified. We have asked the transport department to take an assurance from the taxi drivers that they will operate strictly for the purpose of interstate tourism. If they want to run only in Delhi, they have to convert their vehicles to CNG,” she said.
Narain said there was enough evidence to suggest AITP vehicles were being misused to provide taxi services within the NCR. The pollution control body has advised the Centre, Delhi and Haryana governments to stop hiring AITP diesel cabs for their official work.
“We have asked them to encourage the use of CNG vehicles,” she said.