BPO-IT sector worried over diesel vehicle ban in NCR

The Supreme Court’s decision to ban diesel vehicles in the NCR is having its impact on the BPO sector, which employs more than 250,000 people in Delhi and NCR, and accounts for nearly $7.5 billion in revenue.

The BPO and IT sector is trying to lobby hard with the government to get the Supreme Court to reconsider the ban on diesel vehicles in NCR.

According to reports, industry body National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) has sent a letter to the ministry of heavy industries, ministry of transport, Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY), and the ministry of environment, asking for the CNG infrastructure to be strengthened for full compliance with the order.

The two main issues highlighted are female employee safety and lack of an adequate CNG infrastructure that could hurt business.

"This is a matter of great concern, especially for security of women employees who work in night shifts," said a DeitY official, who is familiar with the discussions but did not wish to be named. "We are supporting the industry in the hearing, scheduled for May 9.” The Supreme Court banned all non-CNG taxis from plying in the capital starting May 1to curb pollution.

Almost 40,000 taxis have gone off the roads as a result, causing problems for commuters in Delhi and the NCR. The BPO industry relies heavily on third party cab services to transport their employees in NCR, most of who work in shifts and at odd hours.

The road transport and highway minister Nitin Gadkari had said on Monday that an inter-ministerial consultation had decided to put forward its points before the Supreme Court and request it to reconsider the decision on May 9.

"We need a phased out plan for implementation by the government - availability of CNG infrastructure needs to be fast tracked for compliance by industry," said Sangeeta Gupta, senior VP at Nasscom.

Nasscom has also asked for night shifts, which also ferry a significant number of women employees, to be exempt from the order till the time the CNG infrastructure is available.

Apart from the added focus on safety, the industry says India could lose face globally if the issue is not fixed.