Taxi operators' protest causes massive gridlock

Cabbies claim harassment by officials

Taxi operators' protest causes massive gridlock

Traffic crawled on Monday with a section of taxi operators protesting against the Supreme Court decision to impose a ban on diesel-fuelled cabs, numbering about 60,000, and blocking city roads.

Traffic was held up at various spots, including National Highway 8 and Ring Road. Office and school goers were the worst hit. Taxi operators demanded that the Aam Aadmi Party government should give them subsidy for switching to the cleaner compressed natural gas (CNG).

The BJP said the Delhi government had “intentionally” avoided persuading the Supreme Court to allow more time for diesel cabs to switch to CNG.

On Saturday, the Supreme Court had refused to give more time to cab operators to make the switch and banned diesel taxis in Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR) from May 1.

Protesters blocked traffic at Delhi-Gurgaon and Delhi-Noida borders and southwest Delhi's Rajokri area. Cars crawled bumper to bumper between Dhaula Kuan and Gurgaon on Monday morning.

The traffic situation on Ring Road worsened at around 11.30 am when the protesters blocked the road at Maharani Bagh, close to Ashram Chowk. “There was a massive jam at DND expressway, as protesters blocked traffic at Maharani Bagh,” Pankaj Kamboj, a Mayur Vihar resident, said.

Ankit Joshi, a Jamia Millia Islamia student, who was caught in a traffic jam early in the morning, said, “I took 40 more minutes to reach the university.”  The protest also affected cab services, and taxi-hailing apps like Uber and Ola showed fewer cabs available for hire. But an Ola tweet said it has "no peak pricing on the Ola platform in Delhi-NCR”.

Delhi Airport issued an advisory, asking flyers to use the Metro to avoid congestion on roads. Traffic Police also advised commuters to avoid DND flyway and clogged stretches between Modi Mill and Mathura Road, and Bhairon Road and Sarai Kale Khan.

Many cabs were impounded on Sunday, following which the cabbies alleged harassment by enforcement agencies. “We are planning to meet the Delhi Police Commissioner in the evening. We will ask him to be considerate and free vehicles impounded yesterday. BJP leader Vijender Gupta is also joining us,” Harpreet Singh, a Delhi transporter said.

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