The Delhi government announced its new policy to scrap all 15-year-old diesel vehicles in Delhi and the NCR six months after Minister for Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) Nitin Gadkari introduced the new vehicle scrappage scheme in the Lok Sabha. Delhi Transport Commissioner Ashish Kundra stated, “Diesel vehicles older than 15 years will be impounded and sent to the scrapping yard if they are found plying on city roads or parked in public places.”
Gadkari announced the scrappage policy that it is a government funded programme to get rid of the old vehicles off the roads. This is done to reduce pollution, create employment and also to increase demand for new vehicles. Old vehicles are used immensely in India according to a report made by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
The report that is 74-page titled “What to do with old vehicles? Towards effective scrappage policy and infrastructure,” states that a joint study by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and German agency GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft fer Internationale) in 2016 had almost estimated that more than 87 lakh vehicles had reached their end-of-life (ELV) status already in 2015. The ELV numbers is likely to be nearly 2.18 crore (two-wheelers account for almost 80% of this) by 2025.
The National Scrappage Policy that was announced on 1st October laid down in the timeline has laid down certain rules for fitness testing and scrapping centres:
- Fitness testing for government and Public Sector Undertaking (PSUs) vehicles will likely have to be completed by April 1st, 2022.
- Fitness test for heavy commercial vehicles will likely have to be completed April 1st, 2023.
- Fitness test rules are to be rolled out for other categories by June 1st, 2024.
- Incentives will be announced for scrapping old vehicles and buying new ones.
“The implementation of the scrappage policy will foster a circular economy and help achieve energy security, road safety, better environment and facilitate secondary material usage in the system,” stated by Prashant K Banerjee who is the Executive Director of Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) at a webinar on ‘Vehicle Scrappage Policy 2021: Its Features and Implementation Planning’. SIAM which is an umbrella body of auto companies has suggested that the government will also provide incentives to car owners who plan to scrap their 15-year-old vehicles.
“The policy has the potential to generate 35,000 jobs, while saving maintenance cost for customers and manufacturing cost for OEMs,” further added by Amit Varadan who is the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways which is one of the important architects of the policy.
“From April 1st, 2023, heavy commercial vehicles will be mandated to undergo test at authorised fitness testing centres,” explained by Varadan. “Other commercial vehicles will be mandated to undergo test from August 1st, 2023. We are proposing 70-100 fitness testing centres be set-up all over the country”.
Whereas, the CSE report which is authored by AnumitaRoychowdhury and Vivek Chattopadhyaya, Shourabh Gupta, Swagata Dey and Akshat Jain stated that it is mostly evident in Delhi where fixing the age of diesel vehicles has brought down the resale value of these certain vehicles which will result in more junk being created.
“The problem is in other parts of the country and there is a possibility that vehicles may have been moved out of the capital,” stated by Vivek Chattopadhyaya.
Proposed by centre, disposed by Delhi
The government of Delhi has now enrolled eight scrappers which has been set up on the Delhi Transport Department’s website. “We get about 70 to 80 diesel and petrol vehicles daily and also two-wheelers,” stated by S Arora who is the chairman of Pineview Technology which is one of the enrolled eight companies. “The money from scrapping will be given to the vehicle owner,” further added by Kundra.
The department has put out a notice regarding this matter which further simplifies the terms and conditions of the new policy. For example, as per the policy old vehicles which clear emission and several other tests will be able to operate.
Also, the notice makes it very clear that all provisions are not of the Centre’s policy which will be applicable in Delhi-NCR. For example, the notice of Delhi government states that diesel vehicles over the age of 10 years and petrol vehicles over the ages of 15 years old which do not pass the fitness test are not allowed on Delhi-NCR roads; they are “liable to be impounded and invite necessary penal action under Motor Vehicles Act, 1988” due to the region’s dangerous levels of air pollution.
The roadworthiness certificate or the vehicle fitness certificate for brand new private vehicles is only valid for 15 years and then needs to be re-registered or renewed every five years thereafter, according to the 2021 complete guide to get RTO Vehicle Fitness certificate. For commercial vehicles, the vehicle fitness certificate is valid for a period of two years for new vehicles and renewed every year thereafter
The network that is informal
The main objective of the policy as stated by the CSE report is to minimize the environmental footprint of used and junk vehicles and dilapidated vehicles. This needs maximum recovery of material to be reused, raise in the recovery of material that is recyclable, and a reduction in the use of material that are harmful for the environment.
This requires not only a strong waste recycling and recovery system in turn but also cooperation from the manufacturers to make sure that materials that are not friendly to the environment are not used and a targeted maximum recovery of material is met, added in the report. This needs a regular mandate for the automobile industry to reduce the use of heavy metals, rubbers, and plastic. And which when used are marked enough for recycling.
The report also adds that there already exists an extensive countrywide network that is informal of dealers who collect as well as dismantle old vehicles to take out material. Almost all the scrapyards of automobile in the nation are managed by the semi-formal and informal sector.
A huge number of vehicles are scrapped and stripped in informal clusters that have also become main hubs for scrap metal and other sorts of refurbished and recovered automobile parts. This is common mostly in all big cities in India.
Chintan which is a non-government organization working for the rights and welfare of people who are engaged in informal recycling, regulated a fact-finding which found that almost more than 3000 such units operate within Delhi in 2015.
The informal sector mainly consists of dismantlers, traders, recyclers, and scrap dealers. The Chintan study states that this informal sector is immensely specialized.
Few of the crucial challenges that the informal ELV market now faces is space crunch which poses a significant obstacle in expansion of the business. This sector also has limited access to technical as well as financial assistance.
he Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises (MoHIPE) has formed a Global Automotive Research Centre (GARC) under the National Automotive Testing and R&D Infrastructure Project (NATRiP) as a demonstration centre at Oragadam near Chennai.
CERO-Mahindra MSTC Recycling Pvt. Ltd is another automobile dismantling and recycling unit in Delhi-NCR (Greater Noida). This is certainly a joint venture between Mahindra Accelo and Metal Scrap Trade Corporation Limited where each party have a 50% sake. Tata and Toyota too are joining the unravel.
Safeguards of the environment: unbalanced responsibility?
These plants will certainly have to follow the guidelines related to scrapping that has been issues by the Central Pollution Control Board. The guidelines, among other stuffs, specify that the scrap yards must have a maximum are of 1000 square yards and be made to remove liquid gas tanks and batteries to neutralize potential components that are explosive such as air bags, and also to remove and collect fluids separately, oils, coolants, anti-freeze, brake fluids etc.
Also, they should be capable to remove catalytic converters and also extract metals and dispose of non-reusable material without causing any damage to the environment. Now, the volume of dismantling in the centres low as it is concerned mostly about competition from the informal sector that has low costs.
As a matter of fact, even when government departments would like to scarp their vehicles, in their tender process the informal sector has a certain advantage as they can quote higher prices.
The story of DTC
Even as the Government of Delhi launched its step to clear the capital’s road of diesel vehicles that are overaged, ironically, a report showed that the state government run Delhi Transport Corporation’s (DTC) entire fleet of 3760 buses is “overage” and way past their ‘use-by’ date as no procurement of new buses has happened since 2008.
According to one estimate, 99% of the DTC buses have surpassed the limit for low-floor CNG buses. A bus is seen as ‘overage’ when it stays in operation for more than 8 years. As per Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), a low-floor CNG bus is permitted to run for a maximum of 12 years or 7.5 lakh km.
The JNNURM report says that “only 32 buses are 8-10 years old while a whopping 3072 buses are 10-12 years old.” Almost more than 656 buses on the roads of Delhi are older than the maximum limit of being operated of 12 years. DTC is asked to maintain a fleet of 5,500 buses but the recent strength is only 3,760 buses. The government of Delhi in 2018 had presented an affidavit in the Delhi High Court asking that the city needs 11,000 buses.
The DTC was able to approve tender last for new buses in 2008. 5 new tenders were floated between the time of 2013 and 2019 but nothing could be finalized due to stringent Annual maintenance contracts (AMCs).
Abiding by the new rules on diesel vehicles in Delhi, the whole DTC fleet needs to be scrapped. But the number of scrapped buses has been almost negligible. Two buses were only scrapped in 2020-2021 and none this year. About 80 buses were taken out between 2019 to 2020 whereas 2209 vehicles were taken out between 2011 to 2017.
DTC’s Managing Director Vijay Bhaduristates that the pressing need to add new buses as the expenditure is increasing on maintaining old buses. “Even as we are running overaged buses, we cannot compromise on safety and have to keep the buses in their best possible condition, which is an expensive affair,” stated by Bhaduri. “The State Transport Authority (STA) has now allowed use of overage buses upto 15 years (almost double of the prescribed operational limit) and has given DTC a 2-3 year window to replace the entire fleet”.
Now the new plan is to revive the DTC by adding almost 1,300 new buses in the coming seven months. It is welcome and if it happens, as the DTC solely carries one million riders everyday than the Delhi metro network does.
Meanwhile, the government of Delhi approved the induction of 190 low-floor CNG propelled air-conditioned buses on November 5th which would start to arrive in the upcoming year.