Uber reintroduced surge pricing in Delhi on Sunday, a day after the Supreme Court banned diesel and petrol-fuelled cabs from plying on the roads of the National Capital Region (NCR). Uber's surge pricing came into effect after the second phase of 15-day odd-even car rule, invoking Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's ire, who had earlier said the ban on surge pricing would be permanent.
Uber and Ola, the two main cab operators in the country, banned demand-linked hikes in Delhi during the odd-even scheme that ran between April 15 and April 30 to show support to Kejriwal's efforts to curb pollution. As the scheme ended, Uber brought back demand-linked hikes in Delhi on Sunday, with the Indian Express quoting a company spokesperson as saying the ban was "temporary."
In a brief tweet on Sunday, Kejriwal acknowledged that some taxis have started charging extra during peak hours, which is illegal. He also warned violators of "strong action." According to the report, a senior Delhi government official said action would be taken against the companies based on complaints and their cabs would be impounded.
In order to crack down on surge pricing by Uber and Ola cabs, the Delhi government has announced a helpline to report overcharging, NDTV reported. According to the government, the fare for Economy Radio Taxis is set at Rs. 12.50 per kilometre while Radio Taxi cabs can charge Rs. 23 per kilometre.
"If any taxi asks for more money in the name of surge-pricing, call 01142400400. We will take strict action," tweeted Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai on Monday.
Besides reprisal of Uber's surge pricing and conclusion of the second run of the odd-even scheme in Delhi, the Supreme Court refused to extend the deadline for diesel-run cabs to switch to CNG by April 30 and banned operation of unconverted cabs in the capital.
The ban affects more than 50 percent of the cabs registered in the city. Almost 27,000 of the total 50,000 cabs in Delhi run on diesel. According to a Hindustan Times report, more than 5,000 cabs on Ola's platform and 8,000 cabs of Uber run on diesel. The court's order, however, exempts all-India tourist permit (AITP) taxis.
Diesel and petrol cab owners protested against the Spupreme Court order by blocking roads near the Delhi-Gurugram border early on Monday. IANS quoted the affected cab drivers as saying that the court's order doesn't pay any heed to the their financial crisis, which could even lead to their suicide.
"How do we pay our monthly instalments to banks for the loans taken to buy taxis? Does not the government realise that diesel cars can't be converted into CNG?" S Kumar, owner of Kumar Taxi Services in central Delhi, told IANS.
The Delhi Police reportedly impounded nearly 150 taxis on Sunday for violating the court's order. Taxis charging demand-linked hikes on fares are also being impounded by the authorities, PTI reported.