By Shivaji Sarkar
The green tribunal is either too wise or works at the behest of the vested interests. The ideas are utopian and if implemented would lead to unnecessary policing of those who do not need it. Else how do you explain its recommendation, lapped up by the bureaucracy, to weed out all 15-year old vehicles? The common man loses and apparently the automobile industry gains along with the corrupt implementing agencies.
It is a bad economic decision. It would lead to loss of billions of rupees that could be used for spurring the economy. Another billion would be lost chasing the wild goose. And what would be the cost of dumping the “waste” vehicles? How much dumping space it would require and who would bear that cost? European Union generates about nine million tons of waste annually from its end-of-life-vehicles (ELV). In India, each metro would do that.
It is also a myth that a new car is less pollutant. A 2004 analysis of Toyota found that as much as 28 per cent of the carbon dioxide emissions generated during the life-cycle of a gasoline-powered vehicle can occur during its manufacture and its transportation to the dealer. Even the new hybrids are found to have a much larger environmental impact during their manufacture compared to non-hybrids.
Similarly, yet another decision, thankfully not implemented yet, tends to deny fuel to those who do not have the pollution-control certificates. It forgets that new Euro III and IV vehicles even after use of five years have little complaints of exceeding the set norms. Who are the panel trying to fool or is it yet another instance of working at the vested interests who could earn handsomely by selling petrol in the “black” to the users? The pollution check for private vehicles should be done only once in two years and not every three months.
In fact, the UP government found it difficult to implement its decision to deny petrol to the non-helmet wearing riders in November, 2014. It led to several brawls and violent incidents.
Similar decision to construct revolting 12 to 15-foot tall irons grills on big and small bridges to stop pollution from immersion of floral puja materials has not made the rivers less polluted. The utopian decision has led to thriving of corruption with the nexus of bridge builders and iron forging industry. It has done no good but increasing cost of projects, avoidable loss to the exchequer, and create grotesque fences.
It appears the decision was taken with the obvious aim of boosting the unholy nexus and not to save the rivers. Does ten tons each of Durga or Ganesh puja materials in Delhi or Mumbai pollute the channels or millions of tons of industrial effluents do it? The green panel seemingly has become easy green pastures for the corrupt. It has unfortunately even tried to mislead the highest court.
Delhi has a total of 8382284 vehicles of all sorts registered till January 2014, according to Delhi transport department. There are 80552508 private vehicles and 329776 commercial vehicles. Let us assume that about 20 per cent of these vehicles would be 15-year old. But who bears the brunt more? It is the private vehicle owners and not the commercial sector.
The decision would immediately affect about 16 lakh private vehicles and a mere 60,000 commercial vehicles. In all subsequent years too it would have at least half these numbers. So the cost of policing and harassment of the common man would increase. How much it would impact the work of the police and other implementing forces have not been reckoned.
This is only about Delhi as the scheme would be extended to all over the country in phases, the cost on all counts would be phenomenal and not worth it. Should the country keen on increasing economic activity would be mired in a thankless job, endless harassment and waste of its manpower for wild goose chase instead of fixing the criminals?
It is known that private cars except in exceptional cases do not add much to pollution. The transport department confirms this as normally it recertifies almost all the vehicles brought to it after the 15-year-limit. In this country, usually those who keep their vehicle in running conditions, as old vehicle maintenance becomes cumbersome and expensive, spend more to keep these fit.
The decision of the green panel would also lead to creation of many new agencies, usually unproductive as Ireland has found, like atuhorised treatment facility (ATF) for ELVs. It also requires designated sites all over the country, which faces severe land shortage. Another body has to be set up to deal with hazardous wastes that come from various effluents and used parts. Possibly, a few more. Each would add to governance cost and add to fiscal deficit for dealing with redundant unproductive ideas.
The Indian car recycling industry usually takes care of these issues and mostly all these supposed hazardous “waste” parts are reused. The secondary industry absorbs the cost as well as adds to the growth of the economy without polluting the environment. The “kabar” or junk industry that recycles, reuses all that the West considers “waste”. It reduces the social costs and keeps the government free of worries to manage the unmanageable. It is a socially and mutually beneficial system that subsists the Indian society.
The green tribunal, mostly run by green horns, does not understand the societal norms. They come out with Western expensive methods suggested by the large corporate to bolster their profits. Their decision would affect larger social chain.
The decision would also lead to severe pollution. Recycling is the biggest industry in this country. It has saved it from many problems the West faces. Why can’t the green tribunal come with norms that would allow a fit vehicle to be allowed to be run as long as its owners can? No one drives a sick vehicle.
It would certainly lead to severe harassment of the masses without achieving the tangible – reduction of pollution. Block-headed decisions have not yielded much anywhere. Mexico City is the worst example of failure of such norms.
If the green tribunal is honest it should not come out with such utopian ideas but take effective steps to check pollution and not harass people.