No luxury cars for international clients of Gurgaon firms

Visits by international clients that were a routine affair in the NCR has suddenly become an area of major concern as companies don't know how to find CNG-fitted Mercedes, BMWs or Jaguars to pick up high-profile visitors from the airport.

The managers are left with little other choice than to scramble a CNG-fitted van or hatchback which is not the kind of welcome the corporate elite in India either expects or gives. Industry analysts feel this may hurt Gurgaon's global image as a corporate destination.

Says Raman Roy, one of the pioneers of the BPO industry in India, who had a tough time explaining to his clients why it took close to two hours to reach the meeting venue from the airport: "It's because there were no cabs available. It was very embarrassing and such things reflect very poorly on the industry. We are not even able to provide cabs for our clients."

The solution was that Roy's BPO, Quatrro, got its employees to pick them up in their private cars. "We told them we will pay double or triple the cost of petrol that would be spent," said Roy, who is also the Nasscom vice-chairman.

Cab operators said there are thousands of such client visits every day in Gurgaon, which is home to both Indian corporate giants and more than half of Fortune 500 companies. "I provide 500 dedicated cabs for client visits a day," said Manav Bahri, owner of Golden Ikon travels.

"Apart from picking them up and dropping them at the airport, there are meetings, parties and social gatherings. Usually, high-end cars are assigned to visiting executives," Bahri added.

Nasscom has decided to file a petition in the Supreme Court on Wednesday to request a phased ban on diesel and petrol cabs. "We are the affected party and we are facing a lot of harassment," said Roy. "Our industry is also against pollution but we want to request the Supreme Court not to tie our hands. We hope the court will consider pushing the ban back by a few months and understand the kind of infrastructure needed to be developed is not in place right now.”