Even though many overage motor vehicles are in good condition, they must be phased out
Consider this: Should vehicles over a particular age be scrapped? Should they be permitted to operate in urban areas already suffering from massive air pollution and allied issues like heavy traffic congestion and lack of parking space? This writer’s opinion is a resounding YES to the 1st question and NO to the 2nd; even though many over-age vehicles are in good condition. Here are some solid reasons why:
1. Pollution from automobiles is caused by many reasons; the top four are: faulty road engineering, bad fuel, terrible maintenance and obsolete vehicle technology. Since the first three are not likely to see much improvement soon, it is left to the fourth—technology evolution with vehicles of all sorts—to provide a higher-than-global-standards solution. In other words, vehicular technology in India is moving ahead so rapidly that anything over 10 years is not just passé but also chucking out a lot more from the tailpipe than just reasonably safe fumes.
2. A 10-year-old diesel vehicle, whether used heavily or not, has suffered extremely high wear & tear across a large number of moving parts. And diesel engines, by their very nature—being far more complex than petrol engines—are susceptible to far worse after-effects of this wear & tear. Apart from a very noticeable drop in power output, an older diesel vehicle—unless perfectly maintained—will also release a lot more by way of pollutants into the air. By some estimates, the drop in mileage as well as the increase in emissions, is to the tune of 30%. Put together, disaster.
3. As of now, there is no regulation on how often, or when, the catalytic converters in vehicles need to be replaced. There is some reason to believe that catalytic converters are removed from new motorcars by crooked mechanics just so that they can get to the expensive metals and alloys found inside which have a ready market for a variety of uses. Likewise, other safety features, like seat-belts and ABS, tend to degrade with age and replacing them may either be very difficult and expensive or close to impossible.
4. Within the Indian context, second-hand and other used vehicles tend to move into the private and illegal taxi business, where they are used in a variety of ways—almost all detrimental to the larger common good. Removing such vehicles by age from urban areas to smaller towns, where everybody knows who owns what, is a simple law-and-order solution, too, especially when old and overage private taxies in urban areas are amongst the heaviest polluters.
The protest from people stuck with overage vehicles is that they maintain them well and see no reason why they should have to sell them. I operate a 2004 Skoda diesel myself which is still in great shape. It will now go for scrap value. The solution is simple: buy new, smaller, modern vehicles.
Come On, Karnataka!
The out-of-state vehicle issue has come to the fore again in Karnataka. Any vehicle, which spends more than a month (30 days) in Karnataka, for any reason, has to a pay lifetime road tax and, if planning to stay longer, also has to get re-registered. Apart from being a huge fiscal drain on the pockets, this also means that people pay lifetime tax for the same vehicle twice—and all this under the strength of a Motor Vehicles Act which is supposed to be all-India and under the Central government.
This is akin to paying income-tax twice because you work in one state and live in another.
One can understand a period of one year, which is what the original Motor Vehicles Act envisaged, as the marker for deciding where a vehicle has to be registered. But only 30 days? Come on, Karnataka! Sometimes, people stay longer for tourism, medical treatment or simply because they are visiting family and friends.
(Veeresh Malik started and sold a couple of companies, is now back to his first love—writing. He is also involved in helping small and midsize family-run businesses re-invent themselves.