The Delhi government has temporarily banned the entry of app-based taxis from different states entering the national capital as the air quality continues to deteriorate. The move comes after the Supreme Court pointed out that several taxis with number plates from different states were operating and carrying only one passenger.
Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai said that the department has been ordered to ban such taxis in line with the SC observations.
Following the decision, app-based cabs with Delhi number plates will only operate in the city.
It’s worth highlighting that many people depend on app-based taxis, like Ola and Uber, to come to Delhi for work and other purposes from nearby cities like Gurugram, Noida, Faridabad, and Ghaziabad, also part of the National Capital Region (NCR). These commuters are going to be severely impacted by the move.
The Delhi-NCR has been facing poor air quality for a few weeks, as governments have failed to curb stubble burning in nearby states. This problem has been ongoing for several years and usually occurs around the onset of the winter season. At the time of writing this piece, AQI (air quality index) in Delhi is labelled “hazardous” by Aqcin, a real-time AQI monitoring platform.
While there has been much politics and blame-game around stubble burning, the local government has come up with a few more temporary solutions to curb pollution. This includes odd-even and banning BS4 diesel cars.
Meanwhile, Uber has made an appeal to reconsider the decision.
In a letter to the transport department and Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, the company said that every single one of 70,000 cars operating across Delhi-NCR runs on clean fuel — CNG or electric.
“Any shift from private vehicles to CNG or electric cabs would only abate the pollution by encouraging people to move to cleaner fuels. An indiscriminate restriction on CNG vehicles which run on clean fuel will force people to move to petrol or diesel vehicles. We also note that a recent study conducted by the Delhi Technological University found that less than 2% of the air pollution in Delhi could be attributed to four-wheelers implying that there is a need to concentrate on other polluting factors which have a significant impact on emissions,” Uber said in the letter.
“We urge the Government to take an all encompassing view based on scientific evidence while also keeping in mind the larger humanitarian crisis this move can precipitate. Uber remains available for any support your office might require in ensuring access to clean and reliable mobility solutions for the citizens of the New Delhi-NCR region. We would be happy to engage if you could kindly give us some time for a discussion,” it added.
Update: 5:12pm IST November 9, 2023 – Contents of this article have been updated with details from Uber’s letter.