Home arrow Archives arrow Economic Highlights arrow Economic Highlights 2015 arrow Scrapping Old Cars: GREEN ORDER WON’T CLEAR AIR!, By Shivaji Sarkar, 11 Apr, 2015
News and Features
INFA Digest
Parliament Spotlight
Journalism Awards
Scrapping Old Cars: GREEN ORDER WON’T CLEAR AIR!, By Shivaji Sarkar, 11 Apr, 2015 Print E-mail

Economic Highlights

New Delhi, 11 April 2015

Scrapping Old Cars


By Shivaji Sarkar


The Aam Aadmi is hit yet again. The greenhorns have come down heavily on the poor man to boost sale of the automobile companies. Banning 10 or 15-year-old cars, be it diesel or petrol, hits the nascent economy of India. The poor are aspiring to be in the middle class with acquisition of old vehicles, furniture, television, music system, computers and other gadgetries.


It is an appropriate moment for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene to save the poor and the middle class, who are the pivot of the economy. His Government would also have to assess the political impact of such a weird decision.


Scrapping of 2.5 lakh vehicles in Delhi, 28 lakh in UP and crores all over the country would make people, all put together, poorer by several thousand crore rupees. Most of them do not have the capacity to pay for a replacement. The greens have pushed the country to an imminent chaos.


This apart, do we have to utilize our poorly manned police force for this innocuous task instead of checking the rising crime? If diesel vehicles are bad, then why manufacture these? If their production cannot be banned, these cannot be forcefully sent off the roads if the vehicles are operational and match safety standards.


Criminalising possession of an old car may suit those who are in league with the car manufacturers. The Government has to step in against such so-called tribunals. It seems the greens are also in league with the big corporate, who are now eyeing to capture the poor-man run kabari (scrap) industry. 


The apprehension seems real. The National Automotive Testing and R&D Infrastructure Project that Nitin Gokarn heads, has been running a small pilot programme on vehicle scrapping. Gokarn states there should be at least 1,000 centres, preferably on private-public partnerships, to dismantle the old vehicles.


Corporatizing the kabari industry might increase their profits, but in a country where poor people are managing the scrap trade at an affordable cost, could lead to severe problems for the lakhs dependent on it. The corporate know forced kabar could be purchased at almost for free through cartelized operations. The Government has to be cautious.


The Chairman of the recycling sub-group at the Society of Automobile Manufacturers, NS Mohan Ram says while taking old vehicles off the road is a tough problem, another is how to dismantle these. 


Such quixotic rules merely make the policeman, transport authorities and law enforcing agencies extort more. The common man suffers and the quixotic goals are never achieved except for tokenism. More stringent or quixotic a law is, more is the corruption, and this all societies know.


If the poor and emerging middle class are pushed back and feel oppressed, the dream of the common voters for a prosperous country would never be achieved. And, this is not the first time. Earlier, over a decade ago plastic pack lobbies created a similar scare by raising the bogey of adulteration of loose mustard oil produced by small expellers – kachhi ghani. It has led to massive plastic bottles being strewn all around today.


The middle class is slowly acquiring wealth. Neither the poor nor the middle class understand the logic that their possession - a car or an old computer – alone is responsible for the massive industrial pollution in this country. Yet, the greens cannot put checks on large units that are polluting India’s rivers, big or small not merely the Yamuna and Ganga.


A factory has a licence to pollute all streams and since 1980s several thousands of crore rupees have gone literally down the drain and river pollution has only increased. Most green steps are lip services. Ganga from Kanpur to Kolkata is not fit for taking a dip. Grotesque fences on bridges and culverts breaking safety norms have not reduced pollution a bit.


The village roads of hinterland India that not so long back were known for their close to nature cleanliness, are today littered with all kinds of discarded plastic – bags, toys, computer junk, cartons, packs et al. Sadly, the greens are not concerned about this as it is far away and nobody is able to see it. The ambient air of factories and brick kilns is polluting the farms, mango and other orchards.


The poor people are made to have a guilt complex for having committed no crime. Their only “crime” is that they want to have a little comfort at affordable prices – second hand cars or other goods. Their fault is that the Government does not care for his easy commuting. The Aam Aadmi’s Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal aptly says, “It is not his government’s responsibility to run buses”.


The greens’ argument that old vehicles are pollutants and these need to be scrapped despite their maintenance is untenable. Environmental consciousness is fine but this country knows how the greens have halted progress of the country and pushed it several decades back in terms of investment and new projects.


The argument proffered by these lobbies that if old vehicles are not removed, the pressure on roads will become worse is false. Roads are clogged because of a massive population boom and lack of dependable public transport. If people do not have their own vehicle they would have no livelihood. The greens instead of helping sustain that are virtually putting a death knell for them.


In India, there are only 16 passenger vehicles and five commercial vehicles per 1,000 people. Globally, these figures are substantially higher. For instance, in Germany, more than half the people own a car. In Thailand, the ratio is 68 cars per 1,000 people.


The aam admi cannot be hit more. He pays heavy unaffordable taxes on his poor Rs 20,000 a month highest income, heavy tolls for moving on roads built with his taxes, higher prices for medicines, all commodities and even educating their children.


Terming the ban short sighted, some auto manufacturers said more stringent pollution checks would have been a better alternative. The Indian automotive industry is already making vehicles conforming to latest rules in Europe. For instance, Maruti Suzuki makes all its cars based on the European Union's End of Life Vehicles directive. All its new cars meet the guidelines where almost 85 per cent of the vehicle and its components could be recycled and reused after the vehicle is scrapped.


Indeed, the tribunal is faulted on many counts. However, it is the common man who faces the brunt and is forced to pay a price. The Government must come down heavily against such bodies and scrap their quixotic recommendations. There can be no two opinions. ---INFA


(Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)


< Previous   Next >
  Mambo powered by Best-IT