The city groaned under traffic woes on Monday as hundreds of cab drivers blocked National Highway 8 and ring road, protesting against action by enforcement agencies following the Supreme Court's decision to ban diesel taxis in Delhi.
In the early hours, a group of protesters blocked both carriageways near the Rajokri toll booth on National Highway 8, which led to a long tailback stretching over a kilometer in the area, traffic officials said.
The situation turned worse at around 11.30 AM when the protesters blocked both carriageways on the Ring Road stretch at Maharani Bagh, close to Ashram Chowk.
In no time, traffic was thrown out-of-gear in Dhaulakuan, Kapashera and Mehrauli, and the chaos continued for hours.
The congestion largely affected thousands of office-goers who travel between Delhi and Gurgaon, linked by NH-8, and the traffic helpline was bombarded with calls from distressed commuters, officials said.
The second blockade directly hit traffic in areas including Sarai Kale Khan, Ashram, near PGDAV College in Nehru Nagar, Lajpat Nagar and Moolchand stretching up to AIIMS.
With people taking alternative routes, several stretches including Lala Lajpat Rai Marg, Defense Colony and Mathura Road also got clogged within an hour, officials said.
The protesters included the diesel cab drivers with All India tourist permits (AITP), who are exempted from the ban provided they operate outside NCR.
On Sunday, over a hundred diesel-run cabs, including many with AITP, ended up getting impounded after they were found plying within the city limits, following which the drivers alleged harassment by enforcement agencies.
"We will continue our protest until the authorities forbid police and transport department officials from penalising us as we have an All India permit which is exempted from the ban. We are only asking for exemption which we have already been given," said Sanjay Samrat, President of Delhi Taxi Tourist Transporters Association.
After extending the deadline twice, the Supreme Court had on Saturday refused to give more time to cab operators to convert to CNG and put a ban on diesel cabs in the city from May 1.
The court exempted taxis with all-India tourist permit (AITP) from switching to CNG if they operate outside NCR.
According to Delhi transport department, about 60,000 taxis are registered in the national capital of which 27,000 run on diesel. Around 2,000 diesel-run taxis had converted into CNG mode in the last two months.
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