9 lakh govt vehicles, buses older than 15 years to go off the road from Apr 1, says Gadkari

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New Delhi, Jan 30 (PTI) More than nine lakh vehicles, owned by central and state governments, transport corporations and public sector undertakings, that are older than 15 years will go off the road from April 1 and new vehicles will replace them, Union minister Nitin Gadkari said on Monday.

Addressing an event organised by industry body FICCI, Gadkari said the government is taking many steps to facilitate the use of ethanol, methanol, bio-CNG, bio-LNG and electric vehicles.

"We have now approved the scrapping of more than nine lakh government vehicles, which are more than 15 years old, and polluting buses and cars will go off the road and new vehicles with alternative fuels will replace them.

"This will further reduce air pollution to a great extent," the road transport and highway minister said.

According to a recent notification by the road transport and highways ministry, from April 1, all vehicles owned by central and state governments, including buses owned by transport corporations and public sector undertakings, that are older than 15 years will be de-registered and scrapped.

The rule shall not apply to the special purpose vehicles (armoured and other specialised vehicles) used for operational purposes for the defence of the country and for the maintenance of law and order and internal security, the notification had said.

"Disposal of such vehicles shall, after the expiry of 15 years from the date of the initial registration of the vehicle, (should) be ensured through the Registered Vehicle Scrapping Facility set up in accordance with the Motor Vehicles (Registration and Functions of Vehicle Scrapping Facility) Rules, 2021," it had said.

Announced in the Union Budget 2021-22, the policy provides for fitness tests after 20 years for personal vehicles and 15 years for commercial vehicles. Under the new policy which is effective from April 1, 2022, the Centre has said states and Union Territories will provide up to 25 per cent tax rebate on road tax for vehicles that are purchased after scrapping old vehicles.

Last year, Gadkari had said he looked to develop at least one automobile scrapping facility within 150 kilometres from each city centre while asserting that the country has the potential to become a vehicle scrapping hub of the entire South Asian region.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the National Vehicle Scrappage Policy in 2021 and said it would help phase out unfit and polluting vehicles and also promote a circular economy.

Gadkari said India's target of achieving net zero by 2070 is very much achievable, and if the country follows the strategic and systematic approach towards transportation.

"There is an immediate need to decarbonise the transport sector," he emphasised.

The minister noted that the need of the hour is to have more buses on electric mode with all the world-class comforts and facilities as it will attract more and more people towards public transport and discourage uses of personal vehicles.

"I have given a target to the auto industry to develop India's first BS-VI compliant flex engine and launch it in India", he said.

According to Gadkari, the logistics costs are 8 to 10 per cent in China, 12 per cent in European countries, 12 per cent in the US and 14-16 per cent in India.

"Our ambition is to bring India's logistics cost to a single digit," he said.

Pointing out that the share of agriculture and allied sector in India's GDP is only 12 per cent, he said there is need to encourage more investment in agriculture, rural and tribal India.

"If you can increase the contribution of agriculture and allied sectors in India's GDP from 12 per cent to 24 per cent, then it is going to create more jobs in agriculture, and rural areas, and even increasing the agriculture growth ... we can make not only smart cities but smart villages also," he said.

Gadkari said future mobility must be sustainable in economy, ecology and environment.

Also, speaking at the event, Uber's head of Public Policy (Asia Pacific) Mike Orgill said hundred per cent vehicles on the Uber platform will become zero-emission by 2040. PTI BKS HVA