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Transport crisis eases in India's capital

India strike
Transport operators now have until April 15 to switch to a greener fuel  

NEW DELHI, India -- City officials in India's capital are extending a deadline for bus franchises to convert from using diesel to compressed natural gas (CNG).

The decision came after three days of transport strikes that stranded tens of thousands of commuters.

"There is more presence of buses on the road since this morning," said Maxwell Pereira, joint commissioner of police, while a sub-inspector at a city traffic control room said "movement was normal."

But eyewitnesses said there were still large crowds at bus stops, and some vehicles were so packed that commuters were riding on top.

Relaxed deadline

Chaos arising from the three-day strike forced the Delhi government to move the deadline back from March 31 to April 15.

In exchange for the delay, city officials want transport operators to produce legal documents demonstrating their commitment to switch to the greener fuel by the new deadline.

They also want operators to get special licenses that commit them to complete the change by September 30.

But the Delhi government's move violates the deadline set by the Supreme Court for transport owners to obtain the special permits.

The Court will hear the state's plea to extend the deadline to April 15.

Local newspapers quote State Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit as saying her government was prepared to face any punishment for relaxing the deadline.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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