While refusing to lift the cap on the number of autorickshaws in the national capital, the Supreme Court, on March 29, 2019, said Delhi is already overcrowded with almost 32 lakh cars and adding more autos in the city, may lead to more congestion and traffic snarls in the city. A bench of justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta said views of the Delhi government are also required in the matter, before passing any direction on the plea filed by Bajaj Auto, seeking removal of the cap on autorickshaws.
The lawyer, appearing for Bajaj, referred to the Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority (EPCA) report, which has sought removal of the present cap of one lakh autos in Delhi. The EPCA, in its report, said the lack of a competitive, comprehensive origin-to-destination public transport system, including first and last-mile connectivity, has directly contributed to increased private ownership of vehicles, as well as the congestion and pollution resulting from it.
The lawyer told the court that Bajaj was coming out with a new technology in its auto, which would be more environment-friendly and said the public transport system in the city needed to be strengthened. “We have to look into the basis of the cap imposed. There has to be some objectivity. We have to see the requirement and how much the roads in Delhi can tolerate. There is already overcrowding of cars. Better technology is okay but we have to see the requirement and for that an empirical data collection is needed,” the bench observed. The apex court said the city was facing parking problems and there was a need to regulate private vehicles as one person often had five cars.
The apex court, in December 1997, had directed the Delhi government to freeze the total number of fresh autorickshaw permits and issue new permits only to replace any existing permit. Later, in 1998, the Delhi government launched an incentive programme to replace the autorickshaws with compressed natural gas (CNG). In 2011, the number was raised to one lakh autorickshaws.