It’s easy for any tribunal, whether green or blue, to put a
ban on vehicles. Earlier, as per the Motor Vehicles norms in the country, a
vehicle life was put at 15 years, beyond which the vehicle needed to be get a
fitness certificate for itself. Once it cleared all kinds of fitness, whether
it is its chassis strength, its metal body quality, working condition of its
different lights and sensors, its tail pipe emissions, etc it would be given a
new lease of life for five years.
Some vehicles went on to become classics and vintage
products and became priceless in nature. Today it would cost a bomb to buy any
vehicle that belongs to this category. Why is the National Green Tribunal so
myopic in its views? First, it banned vehicles in Delhi that were more than 15
years old. Then it came with another shocker when it banned diesel vehicles
more than 10 years old. The National Green Tribunal was established on October 18,
2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 for effective and expeditious
disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of
forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right
relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to
persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
It is a specialised body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle
environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues. This is what the
tribunal’s website says.
In extremely advanced countries like the US, there is no ban
on old vehicles. I know of people who drive 20 year old cars to work. Of
course, it is mandatory that all these vehicles are maintained in mint
condition and are not polluting the environment. The tribunal should know that
even though on an average people sell their car when it attains five or so years
of age, there is another set of people that buys old vehicles. These are now
being increasingly bought from organised second hand vehicle outlets which are
run and controlled by the vehicle manufacturers themselves. Mahindra First
Choice, for example, sells used cars and also ensures that these are sold by
them in very good condition. Ditto is the case with several other vehicle
manufacturers, whether it is top end players like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi
or mass market players like Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai Motor India.
India has always been enforcing some very silly ways t
control vehicle pollution. First and foremost, let’s take the case of pollution
checks. These have to be done every three months, putting hundreds of thousands
of people to a lot of misery. Pollution check for a car costs Rs 80. That
translates into Rs 320 every year for the four mandatory pollution checks.
Instead of this why can they not have an overall vehicle check every year,
where the government controlled outlets does a check of everything about the vehicle,
from its body, its lights, brakes, exhaust emissions etc? Let them charge Rs
1000/- or so, and let them test the vehicle on a treadmill and give it a
fitness test certificate valid for one year. But again, these testing agencies
should be spread across the country with qualified people and modern equipment.
It should not run like the way our driving licence offices or passport offices
run. They should function like modern centres and should be franchised to
I fully agree to the fact that cars do cause pollution, but
then so do human beings and animals. The answer does not lie in banning them or
killing them. Motor vehicles help us to transport goods from one place to
another, apart from taking us on our respective journeys. Instead of banning
vehicles, the solution lies in making better roads and other infrastructure. Also,
there should be multi level parking in every residential locality and office
complexes. Instead of parking vehicles on roads, let people park their vehicles
in these parking outlets.
Let me give you an example how the Indian government
operates. The Abdul Ghaffar Khan Marg that connects Mehrauli and Mahipalpur in
New Delhi’s South West region is an extremely busy road. It connects a good
part Delhi to the T3 International Airport. It’s been in existence for more
than 25 odd years and plans to make it a six-lane or eight -lane road has still
not fructified. The reason is simple. Trees block every part of the road. Yes,
you find trees in the middle of the road! The road itself is of very bad
quality and to top it there are two illegal colonies that have sprung up on
either side of the road, one in Masudpur and the other in Mahipalpur. Because
of traffic jams, vehicle pollution is on the rise. Let the Green Tribunal give
orders to chop the trees.
Curbing pollution cannot be achieved by simply growing more
and more trees. You have got to chop the ones that block your way, so that
vehicles ply in an orderly fashion. Let me give you another example, in Vasant
Kunj’s D4 block a massive tree has been uprooted in a squall that occurred almost
three weeks back. The tree is resting on another massive tree and hence has not
crashed on the road yet. Despite complaints, the fallen tree has not been chopped
off and cleared. Someday it could crash on the expensive cars parked nearby. What has the Green Tribunal got to say on
this? How often does the Green Tribunal give orders to prune awkwardly growing
trees in the country? When was the last pruning of trees done in India and
My friends, look at the larger picture. Make India perfect
by improving its infrastructure. Banning cars is not the solution. In case you
want to ban old vehicles, come out with a cash-for-clunker scheme. Pay Rs 50,000
or Rs 60,000 to those willing to dispose of their old vehicles that are in
working condition. The government should buy these vehicles and destroy them.
It would reduce the number of old vehicles in the country.
If you were to ask me, they should wind up the National
Green Tribunal. It is more of an irritant than a solution provider. If the
government is serious about curbing pollution, they should have a national
population policy and ensure that not many more are born in this country which
is bursting at its seams. Rampant deforestation is taking place all over the
country. Forest land is being grabbed and converted into resorts and homes.
Banning old vehicles is not the answer. Lay down the right infrastructure
and ensure that vehicles are allowed to ply smoothly. This itself will bring
down vehicle pollution drastically, because engines will be able to perform
more efficiently and there would be less of wear and tear. Good and modern INFRASTRUCTURE is the answer to controlling
pollution. That could also mean, chopping more trees! As for the National Green
Tribunal, it should be shut and thrown into the deep sea!!