• To phase out diesel autos, Gurugram admin plans incentives for those making the green switch

    The January 1 deadline to take diesel autos off city roads is less than a month away, but it appears unlikely that the target will be met. To give things a push, the district administration is planning to incentivise the switch from diesel to eco-friendly alternatives for auto drivers.

    At a closed-door meeting between chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar and officials of the Regional Transport Authority (RTA), the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) and other government departments, the CM said phasing out diesel autos needs to be prioritised to address pollution and traffic problems. While the chief minister did speak about the need to address pollution, he had a word of caution for all departments — don’t antagonise auto drivers.

    The instruction is in line with how things have panned out till now.

    In 2015, the EPCA had ordered a complete ban on diesel autos in NCR.

    In November this year, additional deputy commissioner and RTA secretary Imran Raza had announced an action plan to make sure the city’s 11,000 diesel autos go off the roads by January 1. Half-way through the period determined for the implementation, the target appears to be distant.

    RTA and GMDA officials, however, said they are following through on the plan. RTA and the district administration are considering e-rickshaws at subsidised rates for diesel auto drivers.

    The GMDA has proposed to link CNG auto services with city bus services to provide last-mile connectivity, with a trial run on one route on the basis of which it may be expanded.

    “The proposal is still at a nascent stage. We will deliberate on other modalities – like how much subsidy is needed, if and at what rate the government can buy these autos and if auto services can be streamlined. In the next few days, there will be more discussions and a concrete plan will be laid out,” said DCP (traffic) Himanshu Garg, who also holds additional charge as the CEO (mobility) of GMDA.

    But there are quite a few challenges ahead.

    “We need to have a broader perspective. We can’t just decide something today and make these autos illegal the next day. So many livelihoods are involved. So many people depend on these autos for their commutes. The idea should be to replace them with environmentally sustainable options,” Garg said, adding, “It will be an injustice to the auto drivers who have recently acquired a permit. Such transitions need more planning. The good thing is that everyone is on the same page.” Besides, these diesel autos ferry passengers on a sharing basis and are much cheaper than buses or CNG autos.

    RTA officials said that awareness drives are being conducted across the city to tell auto drivers why should switch to CNG autos.

    The switch would be in line with GMDA’s draft mobility plan, which has drawn attention to the need to have a better public transport network in the city.

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