Union Road Transport and Highways Secretary Giridhar Aramane says that the new scrapping policy has been brought in keeping in view the interests of vehicle owners, not the automobile industry. "The scrapping policy will not just reduce the economic loss of vehicle owners but also protect their lives. Road accidents will also be reduced. In the next few weeks, a notification for screening of vehicles that are 15 and 20 years old will be issued. While commercial vehicles will be declared junk after 15 years, the term for private vehicles is 20 years," said Aramane.
He, however, asserted that the scraping policy is not mandatory but voluntary. People will be motivated to follow the directive.
What was the need to bring in a new scrapping policy? Will it benefit the automobile industry? In response to this question, the 1988 batch senior IAS officer of Andhra Pradesh cadre put forward three major reasons. "We have not thought about the benefits to the automobile industry from the scrapping policy. Our focus is on benefits to vehicle owners. According to one estimate, a person who runs an old car loses between Rs 30,000 and Rs 40,000 every year. The loss to a truck owner is between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 3 lakh. The scrapping policy will reduce this economic loss. At present, 50-60 lakh old vehicles are registered in the country. Some of these have already been scrapped. As part of the policy just 15 to 20 lakh new vehicles will be sold in the next four years. I do not see it as a big advantage to the automobile industry."
Citing safety as the second major reason behind bringing in a new policy, Aramane said the rate of accidents and deaths from new vehicles is much lower than older vehicles. "In fact, 15 to 20 year old vehicles do not have seat belts and airbags. So, travel in such vehicles can be fatal. New vehicles adhere to far higher safety standards. The rate of head injuries is also lower in accidents caused by new vehicles. Thus, the aim is to motivate people to acquire new vehicles by scrapping vehicles that are 15 years to 20 years old. We are motivating the states to impose green tax on old vehicles," he further said.
Aramane, who assumed charge as Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways in May 2020, referred to environmental pollution in major cities of the country as the third reason behind bringing in the policy. "There is more pollution in cities such as Delhi, Kanpur and Mumbai. Old vehicles spread more pollution. The elimination of old vehicles will improve the air in India's cities. Automated fitness centres will be opened across the country where the fitness test of vehicles that are 15 to 20 years old will be mandatory. Such centres will be operated by private parties. However, the government will monitor these centres," he told IANS.
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways will put in place technology and infrastructure to ensure that even if you do not have the money, you'll be able to pass through the highway toll plaza and the money will be deducted from your account. "We are now discussing this scheme with the law ministry. The scheme may be implemented on the ground in the next six to seven months. If you cannot pay toll and don't have the money, you can give it later. We are going to create such a system."
Aramane said that the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways will also launch a cashless treatment scheme for road accident victims soon. "States are being motivated to levy green tax on old vehicles. The vehicle scrapping policy will have an investment of about 10,000 crore rupees and about 35,000 people will get jobs. The increase in funds for the Ministry in the Budget will facilitate timely completion of the projects. It will also give an edge to the economy," he added.