City needs modernised graveyard for scrapping old vehicles

The plan for a blanket ban on 15-year-old vehicles to clean the city’s air should be replaced with a “need based phase-out” of polluting and unfit vehicles that have served their owners for a decade and a half, says T K Malhotra, president of the Automobile Association of Upper India (AAUI), which works for the motoring community's welfare.

Delhi has more than eight million vehicles. Nearly 1.8 lakh private vehicles are older than 15-year-old diesel vehicles. Out of the total 5.8 diesel cars in the city, there are 2.8 lakh cars which are older than 10 years. After the National Green Tribunal’s direction, the transport department has started deregistering 15-year-old diesel vehicles.

Talking to DH, Malhotra, who is a member of Special Task Force of the Delhi government and Central Traffic Advisory Committee of Delhi Police, said he favoured extending the life of 15-year-old vehicles "which are fit and non-polluting."

“Our growing urban jungles now need a 'vehicle graveyards' and a pollution-free 'scrapping sector' with the help of foreign countries which have gone for these decades ago,” said Malhotra.

The AAUI is a member of the global non-government organisation which operates across the world for road safety, motorists' interest and for promoting tourism through the road transport system. For the layman, the AAUI is the counterpart of the USA’s ‘triple AAA” - America's Automobile Association.

In the Capital, the AAUI, which works in all the northern states, is located in the Qutab Institution Area. The AAUI runs India's first simulator driving learners' school, helps members in getting driving licences, vehicles insurance, trains bus and truck drivers and it has, among many other responsibilities, the mandate to issue international driving licence.

Opposed to scrapping of all 15-year-old diesel and other vehicles, Malhotra said: “Instead, the government should involve an independent body which inspects the old vehicles and approves an extension in life of those which are still fit and non-polluting ones - after all the common man buys cars with their hard earned money.”

A similar extension-of-life exercise for old vehicles was conducted by the AAUI in the Capital in the 1980s when 10-year-old vehicle with mechanically fit and non-polluting engines and strong bodies were given an extension by the Delhi authorities. “The AAUI was involved in inspecting old vehicles at a mega inspection camp on Talkatora Road for cars facing phase out after 10 years of life,” informed Malhotra, adding that a similar camp can be organized now in the central areas like Pragati Maidan or India Gate lawns with advance online appointments for inspection of 15-year-old vehicles.

Experts from an independent inspection agency and two inspectors from the Transport Department can inspect the engine and body of each 15-year-old vehicle. “The vehicles which have repairable flaws can be allowed to undergo repairs and get an extension in life,” he suggested.

“Those old vehicles which have bad engines or broken bodies will have no option but to go for scrapping,” he said.

Malhotra, who has over four decades of working for road user’s welfare, motoring community and assisting road safety policy makers, said that "blindly scrapping all 15-year-old vehicles would not suit an economy like ours."

In his opinion, the Union Road Transport Ministry should recognize the need for developing a motor scrapping sector. “International experts and agencies need to be invited to come and set up the scrapping sector. At present, the sector does not exist and there is no indigenous expertise available.”

“A scrapping industry should have a system-based policy where the old vehicles will be brought and scrapped without pollution,” said Malhotra, who has travelled across 75 countries to study road safety and motoring related several other issues.

Winner of prestigious global road safety awards, Malhotra advocated adoption of best global practices.

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