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`Green taxis' come as a whiff of fresh air

By Our Staff Reporter

BANGALORE, MARCH 2. The Transport Department's anti-pollution drive got a boost on Tuesday with the launch of 20 Maruti Omni pre-paid "green taxis" run on compressed natural gas (CNG) by the Bangalore and Airport Taxi Drivers' Union.

Flagging off the taxis, the former Karnataka High Court judge, M.F. Saldanha, said these vehicles were a welcome addition to the polluted roads of the city. Pollution, he said, crossed the danger limit five years ago in the city. "Lead poisoning is causing irreversible damage to the brain," he said quoting from a five-year-old World Health Organisation research report.

Mr. Saldanha said he was rudely awakened by the report's findings, and had ordered oil companies to change over to lead-free petrol. "We got the oil companies to adopt stringent safeguards in the transportation and distribution of fuel to prevent adulteration," he said.

He recalled his order directing all autorickshaws to progressively switch over to CNG. "Unfortunately, my judgment was stayed. But the Delhi and Bombay High Courts took copies of my direction and passed similar orders on their own." Three-wheelers and buses were now run on CNG in New Delhi. "As a result, emission levels in Delhi have come down by 38 per cent. A similar result was found in Mumbai, where 68,000 of the 78,000 taxis changed over to CNG. Eighty per cent of the three-wheelers also changed over to the eco-friendly fuel there," he added.

The City Police Commissioner, S. Mariswamy, hoped that the introduction of more such taxis would bring down the number of polluting autorickshaws in the city. "Taxis are more efficient, spacious, and eco-friendly," he said.

Emphasising on good behaviour by taxi drivers at the airport, Mr. Mariswamy said unruly drivers competing for passengers were not a good sight.

"The drivers' union has assured me that its members will abide by the law. The police will also hold a meeting of the union members and traffic officials to further improve the pre-paid taxi system," he said.

The "green taxis" can be hired at Sri Krishna Rajendra Market taxi stand, Bangalore City Railway Station, Kempe Gowda bus stand, Cantonment Railway Station, Dhanvantri Road, Subedhar Chatram Road, Shivajinagar bus stand, and the airport taxi stand.

The drivers' union has decided to replace all old taxis with financial assistance from Vijaya Bank.

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