Choked city: 1L more autos to hit Delhi roads
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Last Updated: Friday, November 11, 2011, 19:25
New Delhi: In a boon to thousands of harried passengers in the capital, the Supreme Court on Friday cleared the decks for plying of one lakh new auto-rickshaws that could bring down the constant complaints of overcharging and misbehaviour by their drivers.

A special forest bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and C K Prasad gave the signal on an application moved by the Delhi Transport Authority as early as 2002 for lifting the freeze imposed by the apex court in its earlier direction of December 16, 1997.

According to senior counsel and amicus curiae P S Narasimha and Delhi government counsel Wasim Ahmed Quadri, with today's direction the administration can now grant permission for playing of another one lakh new autos in the capital.

In 1997, the apex court had directed that there shall be no fresh registration of auto-rickshaws, also known as three-wheeler scooter rickshaws (TSRs), as they were running on two or four stroke petrol engines contributing to the severe pollution in Delhi. It had, however, permitted the existing autos to be replaced by new ones.

Subsequently, the autos were converted into single-fuel CNG-propelled vehicles, but the restriction on the fresh registration resulted in malpractices by the auto-owners and drivers.

In its application, the transport department had sought increase in the number of autos on the ground that they play a "very important" role as intermediate public transport in the country.

"It is further submitted that the limitation on induction of fresh auto-rickshaws for public transportation has increased the incidents of misbehaviour, overcharging and refusal to carry passengers. Presently, the auto-rickshaws are operating in a seller's market. Increasing the number of auto-rickshaws will help us to control the incidence of misbehaviour and this will be in the interest of commuters.

"Now, in view of the fact that most of the existing TSRs are on CNG mode, there is no reason to restrict the fresh registration of TSRs," the department had said.

Delhi has around 53,262 registered three-wheelers as of August 31, 2004 running on compressed natural gas (CNG).

By the December 1997 order, the apex court had imposed a cap on issuing fresh permits for three-wheelers in Delhi. Registration was allowed only on replacement basis. In December 2002, however, the court allowed a further increase of 5,000 three wheelers.

According to the department, taking advantage of the replacement scheme, a few persons purchased the old permits illegally and some of them were possessing more than even 50 TSRs and had created monopoly.

"The crisis of TSRs as on today is due to the said monopoly and shortage of TSRs in the NCT of Delhi. It is further submitted that the population of Delhi has increased from 93 lakhs in 1997 to 1.4 crore in 2002 and the demand for cheap public transport has gone up since 1997," the application had said.


First Published: Friday, November 11, 2011, 15:23

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