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Vehicle scrappage policy 'ignores' repair shop workers' livelihood options, poor roads

By Sudhansu R Das

The Union Government has launched Vehicle Scrappage Policy to scrap 15 year old commercial vehicles and 20 year old private vehicles; the estimated target is 51 lakh vehicles in the first phase. The government said its new circular economy would attract investment worth Rs 10,000 crore and create 35,000 new jobs. 
In the US and Europe, scrap policy is effectively used to boost the car manufacturing sector during economic slowdown. Undoubtedly the scrap policy will immensely benefit car makers, scrap industries and give sops to new car buyers. But, scrapping the old cars will not create many jobs nor would it reduce pollution much. It will create a debt burden on the already battered middle class population.
Thousands of poor mechanics and repair shops across the country repair old cars to earn their livelihood. Over the years they have developed expertise in car repairing; those people can repair each and every part of the cars at an affordable cost. 
 When the corona pandemic has devastated the economy, employment and livelihood across the country, the scrapping of old cars will put millions of car owners into difficulties as they can’t afford to buy new cars at a far higher cost. The policy should have a mix of human heart so that people would not face much difficulties during hard times.
Before scrapping cars, the government should reduce the cost of electric cars and two wheelers so that the corona hit the middle class can exchange their cars with the electric vehicles; the new generation electric cars are too costly to be affordable for the middle class population. Even an electric scooter from a good company costs Rs 1 lakh to Rs 1.5 lakh.
With advanced technology the old cars can be brought back to new condition. So, let there be industries and start ups which can refurbish old cars. Car is no longer a luxury for the middle class people; it has become a basic need like health, education and housing. 
Business houses should not exploit the basic needs of people and the government should step in to curb the intention to maximize profit from basic needs. Forcing people to buy new cars will be too cruel when car makers are already offering for exchange of old cars. When thousands of Indians are already exchanging their cars, what is the need of the scrapping policy? Again increasing re-registration fee for old cars will compel people to borrow and go for new cars. 
If an old car passes through a fitness test, no registration fee should be collected from the owner. The government wants to scrap old cars in order to reduce pollution. For that, the government can penalize those car owners who have no pollution certificate. In fact, the majority of private cars have pollution certificates.
Before asking for fitness certificates for old cars, the governments should give certificates stating the roads are fit for vehicles. Every day an average six people are being killed in road accidents and scores of people get injured in road accidents in Hyderabad. Barring the Air Port road and a few roads in the high tech city, the majority of roads in Hyderabad have dangerous potholes and are not worthy for vehicles. Roads are being repaired every year with tax payers’ money. 
But after heavy rain for four to five hours the roads peel out which are again filled up with mud and sand only to be washed away again and again. Millions of trees, thousands of lakes and water bodies have vanished from the Indian cities; many thousands of water bodies have been polluted. 
The nation should urgently enact a strong law to punish the authority for failing to protect the water bodies of any size. India would have been far more beautiful with those water bodies; Indians would have been more productive, creative and healthy with those water bodies and greeneries.
In many small towns, cities, rural areas and even in metro cities, private cars are the chief mode of transportation for middle class people; senior citizens find it very cost effective to maintain a basic model of Maruti, Tata, Mahindra or Hyundai. If people scrape their basic model cars, they have to pay double the amount for buying battery-run cars. 
Before scrapping cars for its steel and other parts, the government should reduce the cost of electric cars and advise car makers to give more discounts while exchanging old cars. Companies are offering exchange value of Rs 40,000 to Rs 60,000 on old basic model cars which is too small compared to the actual value of cars. 
If the exchange offer is good, more people will automatically part with their old cars. In fact, every year thousands of people buy new cars on exchange only. What is the need of compelling people to scrap their well maintained old cars which do not pollute? Let the people decide when to exchange their cars with companies.
Barring Mumbai, Bangaluru, Calcutta and Chennai the rest of the cities do not have safe, affordable and reliable public transportation systems. Before scrapping cars, the government should establish a reliable public transportation system to save people’s time and money. The scrapping policy should help car makers, scrapping industries as well as the old car owners; above all it should be nation specific.

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