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Why scrap old vehicles, and how?

India’s vehicle scrapping policy, unveiled in March, has now been launched. A look at how owners of old vehicles should test for fitness, and why such a policy is important for the economy and environment.

The launch of India’s vehicle scrapping policy, or the “Voluntary Vehicle-Fleet Modernisation Programme”, seeks to usher in a new age of what it means to own and use an automobile in India. It was unveiled in Parliament in March by Road Transport & Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari

The policy dictates that all automobiles over a certain age should be off the roads in the interest of better pollution control and safety, which new vehicles ensure. Commercial vehicles over 15 years old and personal vehicles over 20 years old are marked for scrapping — it doesn’t matter if they run on diesel or petrol — if they fail an automated fitness test. These will be deregistered; the owner can choose to scrap them, but cannot use them on the road.

How many vehicles will come under its ambit initially?

India has 51 lakh light motor vehicles that are more than 20 years old and 34 lakh over 15 years old. Around 17 lakh medium and heavy commercial vehicles are older than 15 years without valid fitness certificates, according to data with the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

Why should I scrap?

To help vehicle owners find a reason to retire old vehicles, the government envisages that the scrappage certificate will entitle the owner with something extra, such as a tax rebate, sops, and a discount on the new car. The certificate is tradable, which means it can be used by anyone and not necessarily by the owner of the scrapped vehicle.

What if an old personal vehicle passes the fitness test?

In that case, the owner can continue to use it, but the charges for reregistration will be much steeper. In a draft notification issued in March, reregistration charges of all vehicles have been proposed to be hiked from eight to around 20 times, depending on the type of vehicle. These charges will kick in from October this year. Personal vehicles, for instance, are up for reregistration after they have completed 15 years.

What will the fitness centres be like?

Automated Fitness Centres will have tracks and equipment suitable to test for various criteria such as emission norms, braking and other parameters, without human intervention. The Ministry has requested states to consider providing land for free for these centres.

Market demand will drive the number and concentration of fitness centres in an urban area. For example, Delhi with its huge vehicle fleet may have more fitness centres than a city with much fewer cars.

But the government wants at least 718, or one in each district. The Centre is promoting model Inspection and Certification Centres worth Rs 17 crore in all states. It has sanctioned 26 such model centres. The Centre does not want these facilities too far from city centres, so that vehicle owners do not have to travel great distances.

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