Government proposes 'automatic de-registration of old vehicles

In a proposed new initiative by the road transport ministry, there will be a system in place to rid traffic of all unfit vehicles including private cars 15 years after registration. The ministry has proposed "automatic de-registration" of all vehicles after this period.

Presenting the road map proposal to reform the transport sector, the ministry has said in reference to all vehicles older than 15 years: "These vehicles would require to be re-registered or scrapped." 

According to the current norms private vehicles once registered can ply as long as the owner wants after paying a lifetime one-time tax. Therefore, one often finds rickety and polluting vehicles on roads, which pose potential risk for other road users. The only procedure private owners need is to get a renewed fitness certificate after 15 years of registration to run the vehicle.

In the case of commercial vehicles, getting fitness certificate renewed is mandatory every year for all vehicles that are over two years old.

"De-registration after 15 years and re-registration is a more democratic provision than mandatory culling of old vehicles,” said S P Singh of IFTRT, a Delhi-based think tank on transport issues. “Negative taxation such as paying taxes again after 15 years would discourage people to keep an old vehicle. But in totality, government must have a stringent fitness and pollution check regime to take unfit vehicles off our roads irrespective of their age.”

A transport ministry official said since states have the mandate to deal with these issues, they have left it to them. Already the ministry is carrying out a study for preparing a policy for voluntary vehicle scrap scheme.

Though earlier the ministry had announced putting a mandatory scrapping policy in place on priority with provision for incentives for owners, various consumer pressure groups have opposed any such norm. They have submitted that fitness of vehicles and not their age should be the criteria.

A state transport department official said automatic de-registration of old vehicles and the option of their re-registration will also help detect if these were involved in offences or criminal activity. At present, vehicles used in serious crimes often ply on roads with impunity.