Diesel taxi ban could cost BPO sector $1 billion

If a recent ban on diesel taxis in the capital continues for another three weeks it will deal a big blow to the Indian business process outsourcing (BPO) sector, according to the National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom).

“There will be a potential $1-billion loss to the sector if the ban on diesel cabs continues for two-three weeks,” said Sangeeta Gupta, senior vice-president of Nasscom.

Approximately 15,000 diesel taxis provide transport services to about one million direct and indirect BPO employees in 300 companies in the Delhi-national capital region (NCR).

Nasscom wants a deferred timeline for the switch from diesel to compressed natural gas (CNG) or phased implementation, exemption for employees to be picked up and dropped at night and a specification of the permit needed by taxis working for the sector. The body plans to approach the Supreme Court in the next couple of days on the matter.

“With 38 per cent women employees in our industry, safety has always been a big concern. We are mandated to provide home drops to employees working after 8 pm. In the absence of any reliable public transport, complying with this statutory guideline is impossible,” said Raman Roy, vice-chairman of Nasscom and managing director of Quatrro Global Services.

“As an industry, we are perhaps the cleanest, least polluting and most compliant. If the appropriate CNG stations and factory-fitted CNG vehicles are made available, we can switch expeditiously,” said Vidya Srinivasan, senior vice-president, Genpact.

Nasscom representatives have met officials of the information technology ministry and written to the heavy industries, transport and environment ministries, Delhi Police, and the Delhi government on the issue.

Taxi aggregator Ola on Wednesday said the ban had grounded 30,000 diesel taxis in Delhi-NCR.

“We are happy the government has requested a review from the Supreme Court,” said Anand Subramanian, senior director, marketing communications, Ola.

“We have 28,000 CNG taxis in Delhi-NCR. There are thousands of drivers on our platform who have diesel vehicles and will lose a source of income if the ban continues,” he said.