Scrapping vehicles simply on basis of ‘Age’ may not be Socio-Economically that fair in India

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‘Vehicle Scrappage Policy’ without subsidy/ tax reduction for New purchase will be more unfair

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Not fair to include Rs. 5 Lakh incentive for replacement of Old trucks & not for Old Buses in REVIVAL’ package

Daya Sagar

Nitin Gadkari Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways has been quoted as having said in an interview to an English daily reporting of 04012021 “We are already in the process of making (vehicle) scrapping policy. With the scrapping policy, I am confident that in the next five years India will be the number one manufacturing hub in the world”. No doubt last 21 September ( 2020) it was also reported referring to some government sources that the upcoming government scrap page policy for ‘end of life vehicles’ will offer no tax exemptions to owners, and “incentives, if any, will have to offered by OEMs (original equipment manufacturers).
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had directed ban of plying of 15-year-old petrol and 10-year-old diesel vehicles in the Delhi-NCR. 29th October 2018 the Supreme court had rejected a plea against the NGT’s order.
It is commonly being understood that the policy in general will be resting on scrapping of vehicles on age only ( age of registration) . Ministry of Road Transport and Highways Notification SO. 4251(E).26-11-2020 – Motor Vehicle Aggregator Guidelines 2O2O lay down for allowing the central government to order for ‘recall’ of defected motor vehicles which may harm the environment, or the driver, or other road users. There should be no problem in it but blanket decision of scrapping vehicles simply on the basis age could surely be questioned from the point of view of socio-economic status of vehicle owners in India .
Since the day environmentalist/NGOs having moved courts expressing concern for the environmental quality degradation/air pollution focusing on the ill effects of the industrial wastes as well as the oil consuming vehicles/ engines (commercial and private) subject has more drawn the attention of courts, ‘environment’ experts and of course the government too. As regards the vehicles / automobiles the immediate cause and solution has been more seen in the age of the vehicles and already nearly a blanket seal has been put on the age of the vehicles as 15 years max with provisions for extensions (six monthly/yearly ) in cases upto 5 years.
The cause of pollution has been that way seen only in the age of the vehicle where as it is the engine that can cause undue pollution and ofcourse there too is a provision/ possibility of the overhaul/rebuild of the engine worth giving performance as good as near to a new engine or even in some cases the engine could be replaced with a new engine there by reducing cost substantially much below the cost of replacing total vehicle.
The courts have passed the orders regarding the “vehicles” based on the contents of the petitions filed by environmentalists /NGOs, the way the petitions have been contested by the government who surely did not have much to lose, very less interest shown by the vehicle manufacturers since replacements would boost market sales and nearly zero participation of unbiased institutions/ the vehicle owners.
Whereas professionally it may not be justified to go for blanket ban on use of a vehicle based on it’s “age” only for the reasons like (i) a vehicle does not comprise only of an engine (ii) an engine can be overhauled / rebuild worth giving performance near to a new engine at much lower a cost which is very very important for a commercial vehicle (iii) for a vehicle the chassis / body to form the part of assembly that is important for / safety/service /physical stability / compactness of the structure of vehicle no less than engine ; no doubt annual inspection by RTOs/ MVD is carried in India only for commercial vehicles (and that to only for elements other than engine performance) where as there is nothing wrong in case that is extended to all vehicles as is done in some other countries but there too there is no blanket age bar on the vehicles (iv )there are many vehicle owners in India who may not be using their private car/ vehicle even for the 1st overhaul life averaged by the manufacturers or who have so nicely maintained their vehicles where as the junk value of the vehicle on age basis that one may get unduly burden a private car owner by atleast 4 to 5 lakhs where as one could manage the feel like a new car by spending not even 15 to 20 % of that (iv) there could be good number of such cases in the commercial sector also where the individual truck or bus owner would have well maintained the vehicles and just spending 15 to 20 % of the cost of a new truck / bus ( may be atleast 30 lakh) would make the vehicle worth meeting general physical / environmental safety needs ; imagine the financial burden the poor owner would otherwise be bearing (v) no doubt the replacement of vehicles will give business to the vehicle manufacturers but that cannot be seen as growth at the cost of common man (vi) imagine how much coal/electric energy / oil /human resource ( man hours )/ steel/ go into manufacturing a new car/ truck chassis and in case we discard a usable vehicle we shall be indirectly putting to waste millions of energy units /man hours, so in case government wants to take advantage of discarding 15yrs aged vehicles better provide export incentives to the industry.
(vi) India has MVDs/ RTOs in every state , every vehicle could be subjected to engine performance test also in addition to structural inspection for phasing out the older and polluting vehicles (vii) every new manufactured vehicle will need energy consumption and hence adding some pollution to environment.
No doubt the bodies like The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), has been urging the government to formulate a scrap page policy to phase out older and polluting vehicles. The scrap page policy being worked out has also been seen by some as part of the stimulus package requested by OEMs for the auto sector’s revival over and above demanding a reduction in the GST rates. So, the scrap policy being worked out and so far not made out must be subjected to a critical review since it is going to have a very large impact on the socio-economic environment in which the majority of Indian people live.
Pending issue of final Vehicle Scrap page Policy by Government of India the Government of UT of J&K must atleast extend the incentive of Rs. 5 Lakh as contained in the September 2020 “REVIVAL’ package for replacement of old Buses also to replacement of Old Trucks ( load carriers) , reducing the road tax / license / registration renewal fee for commercial vehicles atleast by 50% in addition to approaching GOI for taking up with the Insurance Companies for cutting down the insurance premium by atleast 50% and in the mean time atleast giving an additional lease of life of 2 years to all vehicle owners ( there have been cases where vehicle purchased in Jan 2020 have not done even 1000 km in one year ) in view of Covid-19 impact.
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(Daya Sagar is a Sr Journalist and Social Activist [email protected])

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