We are bringing the spotlight on a piece by Avay Shukla on HSRP ( High Security Registration Plates), the 20 year age limit for cars, FASTag scheme, and Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways and the Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Nitin Gadkari’s “inventive mind” and the goodies he has lined up for your tool kit.
Avay Shukla retired from the Indian Administrative Service in December 2010. A keen environmentalist and trekker, Shukla has published a book on high altitude trekking in the Himachal Himalayas: THE TRAILS LESS TRAVELLED.
Here is a quote from Avay Shukla’s article, which he has published on his blog:
There are 6.8 million light vehicles older than 20 years, the vast majority fitness compliant; scrapping them overnight will create millions of tonnes of non-biodegradable waste. Where is the policy for their recycling, and where is the infrastructure to handle this mammoth challenge? Middle class people who have saved their last penny to buy an aspirational car and kept it in good condition are suddenly being told that they can no longer drive them. Would it not make more sense to tighten pollution norms rather than impose an unbearable burden on the common man and further ruin the environment ? No, sir, it’s not concern for the environment that is driving this policy but concern for the the favoured one percent of our capitalist HNIs: the scrapping will lead to the sale of at least two million additional LCVs every year- the auto industry is already licking its chops and queuing up at the SBI counters to buy some more electoral bonds.
POSTSCIPT: Comments on this piece by Avay Shukla are pouring in on social media. We are reproducing the comments by leaders of society from across the globe for a balanced view of points raised by the former IAS officer.
Avay Shukla seems to have no problems with the license permit raj and MRTP when only 2 ancient car models were available with a long wait or a premium, virtually no safety features, driven on pot holed 2 lane roads that were accident prone. I remember visits to the US and Singapore where cars breezed through toll gates with RFIDs akin to fast tag and when it finally comes to the country 3 decades later, he has a problem. He is ok with the high death rates on the old highways but would resist multi-laning just like bank clerks in the 80s opposed computerization. Essentially, he laments the changing of the old order to a modern one where the likes of him are irrelevant. It’s time he joins Pappu’s inner circle.
This article is also full of lies. Also, it hopes to target Gadkari. Take for example the description of trying to get an HSRP or of finding a parking slot. Or of fastags. He also forgets that through the journey from Shimla to Delhi in the 1990s one would always, invariably see, at least one major accident and a few dead bodies on the road. Today the accident is rare and dead bodies rarer.
Like all Avay Shukla’s articles, this one too is interminably long-winded and insufferably ‘clever’. And infused as usual throughout with anti-BJP sanctimony. Mercifully, this blog is free from irrelevant literary references!
A decorated Army officer, Maj General (retd) writes: A very poorly researched paper. He has raised four issues – HSRP, 20 year age limit for cars, tolls for new roads and FasTag, and lack of study on these.
- HSRP – in vogue since 2015-16. Done adequate study and now compulsory for all new cars. Old cars given timelines. I got mine within a week. No issues. Wonder what problem he faced? Each district of Delhi has multiple locations for getting the number plates.
- All vehicles over 20 years are heavily polluting vehicles, as per the studies done. Is he sure that there is no method to this madness? Commercial vehicles have been given a life of only 15 years. Further, maintaining it is also difficult beyond this time period.
- The concept of Toll tax for new roads is common, worldwide. Road tax is meant to maintain existing roads and not make new roads. His comparison of documentation and space for parking is laughable, to say the least. As people prosper, more vehicles hit the roads, need wider roads and parking meters.
- FasTag as a concept has been under testing for over a decade. This is a smart way to avoid long queues at tolls. Done world over.
Seems, Mr Shukla wants India to stay poor – with the ‘Hindu rate of growth’. He was part of the Government machinery, so managed his loan and car so easily then. Did he check with the common man how long you had to wait even for a wristwatch??
The point highlighted, the need for a practical program to safely recycle old vehicles, is a good one. The rest of the article appears to be more intended to discredit the Modi regime, capitalist cronies, etc. I have little knowledge of how easy/difficult fast tags, digital tags, etc., are in practice. But the debunking of Shukla’s spin on those have come from several credible sources. I have read a few articles by him earlier, which read more like INC pamphlets! And I just don’t find him funny either, although he tries very hard. His normal practice is to have irrelevant and out of context quotes from Shakespeare, Hegel, Cicero and the like. This article is free of those, but still manages to be transparently motivated and WAY too long. And, not funny, as usual.