The West Bengal government is working on a policy to incentivise the scrapping of commercial vehicles that are 15 years or older, officials said.
The proposed policy suggests waiving penalties for unpaid taxes, a cut in the amount to be paid as dues and a discount varying between 15 and 25 per cent on purchase of new vehicles.
Scrapping of vehicles that are 15 years or older has not picked up in West Bengal despite a National Green Tribunal (NGT) directive to the state government.
With a scrapping policy in place, the state government wants owners of commercial vehicles to replace their old vehicles with new ones, a must step towards reducing air pollution levels.
The transport sector accounts for 20 per cent of the PM 2.5, ultra fine particles that can trigger a host of ailments, in Kolkata’s air, a recent study has revealed.
The study also pointed out that two-thirds of all deaths from air pollution in India is caused by emission from vehicles.
Kolkata has close to 2.19 lakh commercial vehicles that are 15 years or older. In the rest of West Bengal, the figure is 6.98 lakh.
“The discount for purchasing new vehicles after scrapping old ones will be higher if someone opts for an electric vehicle in the category of small commercial cars, including taxis,” an official in the transport department said, referring to the government’s proposal to incentivise phasing out of old commercial vehicles.
“We have broadly categorised commercial vehicles into buses, lorries, cars (including taxis) and three-wheelers.”
Officials in the know said the policy would be ready within a week or two. Once the state cabinet clears it, the proposal will be sent to the Union ministry of road transport and highways, which has been seeking such policies from all states.
“The discount for purchasing a new vehicle after scrapping an old one will be inversely proportional to the vehicle’s age,” an official said.
Records with the state finance department say over a quarter of nearly 10 lakh commercial vehicles that are older than 15 years have one or more taxes unpaid for years.
“We want the owners to clear their dues and we will waive the penalties for late payment. We are also considering a proposal to offer a concession on the total payable amount,” an official said.
The late fine for not renewing the permit could be Rs 5,000 a year and that for skipping a fitness test, Rs 18,000.
“We will invite entrepreneurs to set up scrapyards for old commercial vehicles,” transport minister Snehasis Chakraborty told The Telegraph. “The state government will identify plots from its land bank and act as a facilitator.”
The first scrapyard for old commercial vehicles in Kolkata has been planned at the Nilgunge depot of the West Bengal Transport Corporation in Belgharia.