New Delhi: The Supreme Court's ban on plying of diesel and petrol driven taxis in Delhi took effect on Sunday, with three taxi owners warning this might lead to suicides in frustration.
Cab operators termed the apex court's decision tyrannical, saying if the decision was not changed then it will lead many of them to commit suicide. Over 27,000 taxis run on diesel alone in Delhi.
The cab operators told IANS that they had decided to launch a protest after mutual consultations. They claimed that almost half the taxis were run on diesel in the national capital.
"I have cancelled 17 bookings since morning as most of my taxis are run on diesel. I have only five taxis run by CNG. We do not understand why the court and Government come up with such decisions?" S. Kumar, owner of Kumar Taxi Services in central Delhi, told IANS.
He said the apex court decision of Saturday will lead many taxi operators to commit suicide as they won't be able to pay their car instalments now.
"How do we pay our monthly instalments to banks for the loans taken to buy taxis? Does not the government realize that diesel cars can't be converted into CNG?"
The Supreme Court on Saturday refused to give more time to taxi operators to switch to the cleaner compressed natural gas (CNG). The deadline for the change, which had been extended twice, was Saturday.
Another transporter, who did not wished to be named, told IANS: "The order would have at least made sense if it was applicable to diesel taxis after their ongoing permit got over. That would have at least given some time to the operators to arrange for alternate taxis. But now we are all ruined."
According to the Delhi transport department, about 60,000 taxis are registered in the city. Of them, 27,000 run on diesel.
Some taxi operators believe the court ruling will mainly affect cab aggregators Ola and Uber.
"The decision is not applicable to taxis with All India Tourist Permit. This is going to be a setback for Ola and Uber who have a large number of taxis run on diesel," Raman of Kamal Taxi Service told IANS.
"The authorities should not be surprised if taxi owners and drivers commit suicide in sheer frustration," Raman added.
Pritpal Singh, a taxi owner in south Delhi, that even taxis with all-India permits often plied within the capital when there was no business for journeys outside. "So even they will be hit. We don't know what to do."
On Sunday, with taxis plying on petrol and diesel staying off the roads, commuters switched over to the limited number of CNG-driven yellow-top taxis and auto-rickshaws. The problem is expected to peak on Monday.
"I called two taxi companies but declined to take my booking citing lack of CNG cabs. Finally I took an auto-rickshaw to reach Noida Sector 15," Sangeeta Johari, a stock broker, told IANS.
Piyush, working with a NGO, told IANS that he waited for two hours to get his taxi booked.
"I was initially told there are no cabs. Later, they said a taxi will be available but in two hours. I had no option and to wait," he said.
This is the second blow to Uber and Ola in Delhi. The Delhi government has declared that it will not let them charge "surge pricing".