The registration of new taxis with retrofitted Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) kits at Regional Transport Offices (RTO) has reduced in the last fortnight after it was made mandatory to fit the vehicles with advanced ‘on-board diagnosis’ (OBD-2) sensor-based kits CNG kits.
The transport commissioner had issued an order to this effect earlier this month. The new kits comply with the latest pollution norms.
According to officials at taxi unions, 20-25 taxis are usually registered daily at the three RTO offices in Mumbai. However, ever since the directive to fit the new CNG kits, the number of new registrations has dropped below five a day.
A senior RTO officer said that OBD-1 norms for CNG kits came into effect in 2010, while the road ministry made OBD-2 norms mandatory from April 1, 2013.
Also known as sequential kits, OBD-2 kits are considered as more environment-friendly and less polluting. They also provide more power and mileage.
According to taxi unions, the registration of 50 vehicles has been delayed due to the October 1 directive by the transport commissioner’s office (TCO).
“Cabbies, who have already fitted conventional kits, are forced to change them again,” said Sunil Sathe, leader of Mumbai Taxi Chalak Malak Sena, “It will cost Rs 20,000 more. Who will bear the extra cost?”
Taxi unions claimed that TCO did not bother to inform them about the decision, even though it directly affects taxi drivers.
“On October 6, we came to know about the decision through our members, when RTO began to deny registration to new taxis retrofitted with conventional kits, though directives were issued in the beginning of the month,” said AL Quadros, leader of Mumbai Taximen’s Union.
Taxi unions have already protested the decision by writing letter to the transport commissioner and sought a grace period. “Those who had booked CNG kits before the decision should be allowed to register their vehicles with conventional kits,” said DA Salian, leader of the Mumbai Taxi Association.
Mumbai Taxi Chalak Malak Sana also threatened to protest against the decision, if transport department failed to provide relief to cabbies who already had fitted conventional kits to their vehicles. Transport commissioner Mahesh Zagade was unavailable for comment.