New Delhi: The road ministry is planning to propose a definition for All-India Tourist Permit (AITP) taxis as those which run for a minimum of 40km per day and are hired on hourly or daily rates, apart from plying on long routes.
It has also been proposed that vehicles with AITP be allowed to be hired on contract for offices, companies and industries.
A road ministry official said on condition of anonymity that these are the basic criteria being discussed to define AITP taxis and that the draft would be soon presented before a three-member road ministry committee formed in May to prepare a policy framework for taxi and other transport operators.
The committee was formed in the wake of the controversy surrounding commercial diesel vehicles and air pollution in the national capital region (NCR).
In May, the road ministry constituted a three-member committee headed by road secretary Sanjay Mitra, with joint secretary Abhay Damle and the Delhi transport commissioner as the other two members.
The committee was formed after a group of taxi and other transport operators met road minister Nitin Gadkari and asked him to come up with a policy to clarify rules and regulations for different types of taxis, specifically those plying in the Delhi-NCR region.
Taxi operators have been protesting against restrictions placed on diesel vehicles amid increasing vehicular pollution in the capital, whose air quality is one of the worst in the world.
On 16 December 2015, the Supreme Court barred the registration of diesel vehicles with engines sizes bigger than 2,000cc in Delhi-NCR until 31 March. It also doubled the entry tax on trucks coming into Delhi and ordered diesel commercial vehicles that are 10 or more years old off the capital’s roads.
In March, the court upheld the ban on the sale of powerful diesel vehicles in Delhi-NCR, but indicated that it could be lifted if an additional environmental cess were to be imposed on purchases. The case will be heard next in July.
In May, the Supreme Court allowed diesel cabs running on AITP, even those that are 10 years old, to ply in Delhi-NCR, until the expiry of their permits, offering a major relief to taxi operators. It said that existing AITPs will be converted to AITP-O (old) permits, which will be allowed in the NCR for point-to-point services, like those used by business process outsourcing (BPO) firms.
The court added that such taxis will be allowed to run only if they comply with government requirements on safety, security and fares. The order seeking compliance with fares set by the government could affect surge pricing.
However, new city taxis will only be registered if they run on petrol, compressed natural gas (CNG) or dual fuel. New AITP permits will be labelled AITP-N and holders will not be authorized to offer point-to-point services in NCR.
The road ministry’s categorization is expected to bring clarity on which cabs qualify to be classified AITP taxis.