The Delhi government is likely to ban the entry of commercial cabs registered outside Delhi, into the Capital as part of the air pollution mitigation efforts, environment minister Gopal Rai said on Wednesday. Under the rules, which are yet to be notified, cabs registered outside Delhi, which operate through app-based aggregators such as Ola and Uber, will not be allowed to enter the city, along with diesel taxis including those conforming to BS6 emission norms.
According to an official aware of the matter, there will only be clarity in the matter when an order is issued. “The order may be issued on Friday,” he said, requesting anonymity.
A senior transport department official, however, said the department was also considering restricting rather than completely banning cabs because the move may lead to chaos.
“The ban has been proposed during the period odd-even scheme may be in force. Rather than banning all cabs, the odd-even rule may apply to the outside cabs entering Delhi. The cabs registered in Delhi will be exempted from the rule,” the second official added.
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An industry person aware of the matter said all app-based cabs were CNG, and banning them would mean more private vehicles on the road.
Uber, in an official statement, said, “While we haven’t received any order from the transport department, we want to reiterate that all the cars on Uber in Delhi are CNG or electric and shared mobility helps more people commute in fewer cars.”
Ola did not respond to the development.
Transport minister Kailash Gahlot said the department was equipped to implement a complete ban on such taxis. “The final decision would be taken based on the court’s suggestion,” he said.
Rai said the Supreme Court wanted to know whether only taxis registered in Delhi can ply in Delhi as an additional measure to control the pollution.
“We have asked the transport department to prepare a report regarding the possible impact of the ban on diesel taxis. It will be submitted in the court on Friday,” said Rai, adding that the Delhi government will increase the frequency of buses and Metro to ensure no inconvenience is caused. The period of the ban will likely be November 13-20, after which an extension will depend on the prevailing conditions.
Experts said that the restrictions on vehicles can be used as an emergency measure to reduce traffic, toxic exposures and prevent additional loading of emissions. “As vehicles are the major contributors of pollution among the local and regional sources in Delhi, emergency action cannot ignore vehicles. Past studies have shown that such schemes can slow down the peaking of pollution, stabilise and even lower peak levels even when the atmospheric conditions are hostile,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director (research and advocacy) at Centre for Science and Environment.