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Bumpy road ahead for vintage vehicles — Will the phase-out plan be watered down?

Our Bureau

An expert study has suggested selling or relocating the over-12-year-old vehicles out of Hyderabad as an effective alternative to total scrapping.

HYDERABAD, June 24

FOLLOWING New Delhi, Hyderabad is on the track to phase out 15-year-old vehicles. Like the Capital, in the twin cities also, the initial decision is to scrap both commercial and private vehicles that have lived their life, according to the Government.

In Delhi, however, effective opposition from the public and concerned organisations forced the Government to restrict its decision to commercial vehicles for the time being.

Will it be a replay of the situation in Hyderabad too? As per the State Cabinet decision of last week, about 2.88 lakh vehicles have to be phased out by 2005. A major chunk, about 2.4 lakh, are privately owned two-stroke, two-wheelers and cars.

An option proposed by the State Cabinet sub-committee, which gave a detailed set of recommendations and action plan was a one-time `Green Levy' on 15-year-old vehicles, which go in for the mandatory re-registration.

In short, the most-affected would be a large number of common people for whom a two-wheeler is a necessity and not a luxury. The number of cars to face the axe would be around 35,000.

According to a study done by Dr Y. Satyanarayana of the Administrative Staff College of India here, in Hyderabad city alone, 1,200 out of the 2,264 buses and 14,000 out of 36,372 goods vehicles are more than 15 years old as on April 1, 2001. Similarly, 12,000 out of the 49,000 autorickshaws are older than 15.

The nearly 3 lakh vehicles, which are 15 years old and plying in Hyderabad contribute to about 60 per cent or roughly 600 tonnes of daily emissions. By controlling emissions from this significant number, the air quality of the city can be improved, the study said.

However, the existing taxation policy in Hyderabad is not conducive for vehicle owners to scrap their old vehicles are replace them by new ones. For private vehicles, there is no tax after 12 years and an amount of 11 per cent of the price of the vehicle will have to be paid as life-time tax when new vehicles are purchased.

The ASCI study suggested selling or relocating the over-12-year-old vehicles out of Hyderabad as an effective alternative to total scrapping. The emissions are not very important in rural areas and hence older vehicles emitting more pollutants can be sent out of the Hyderabad agglomeration.

It has recommended further incentives such as exemptions from registration charges, fitness certificate fee etc. for older vehicles moving out of Hyderabad.

An interesting finding of the study was the higher percentage of fleet of the State Road Transport in the city being older than in rural areas. As many as 480 out of 2,400 buses operating in Hyderabad (20 per cent) were more than 12 years old. In contrast, only 200 out of the 16,000 buses or just 0.6 per cent involved in rural operations are older than 12 years.

While agreeing that pollution levels, especially from automobile emissions, need to be brought down through a combination of methods like scrapping of old vehicles, cleaner fuels, better alternate mass transport systems, the Forum for a Better Hyderabad has called for a timeframe on phasing out old vehicles.

Dr C. Ramachandriah, co-ordinator of the Forum, said in a statement that new vehicles should be registered only if they conform to Bharat-II norms. At the same time, a single authority that is responsible for planning, coordinating and implementing measures to bring down air pollutions levels is needed.

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