Guest post by SIMON HARDING
On Friday, Supreme Court judges KS Radhakrishnan and CK Prasad gave the go-ahead for 45,000 new auto rickshaw permits to be issued in Delhi. The move has the potential to drastically improve the city’s auto-rickshaw service for passengers and drivers alike, but many unanswered questions about distribution, implementation and numbers remain.
There are currently around 55,000 auto-rickshaws in the capital. The number of autos has not grown since the Supreme Court stopped the issuing of new auto permits in 1997 due to concern about the pollution emitted from the old dirty two-stroke petrol engines (now replaced with CNG).
The number has not remained frozen. Evidence suggests that it has actually fallen since 1997 because around 20,000 autos were lost during the CNG switchover as many drivers had their permits cancelled as they were too slow to convert their autos to the new fuel or simply could not afford the conversion. The fall in numbers contrasts with the growing demand for autos from Delhi’s population, which grew 21.6% in the period 2001-2011.