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Car Inequity in India

Written By Gopal Krishna on Thursday, April 09, 2009 | 1:02 AM

Car industry has become the first big dinosaur of the 21st century. Every country today is working to bail out its automobile industry. The big four companies are still on the brink of closure.

The tax on cars is lower than what buses pay in our socialist country.Incentives rolled out to Nano by Gujarat government amount to as much as Rs 50,000-60,000 per Rs 1 lakh car.

Statistics reveal that in US there are some 800 vehicles for 1,000 people (old and young) where as in India it is 7 per 1,000 people (urban and rural).

As the Nano rolls out, think of how we subsidize the car and tax the bus. Public buses pay taxes as commercial passenger vehicles, each year and based on the number they carry. In many states, they pay over 12 times more tax than cars.

Think of the public transport bus service in your city and ask how much of its revenues go in taxes: half, in most cases.

Think also that the same Tata company, that has managed to roll out the car of our dreams in record time, does not possess the capacity to build the buses cities need.

Half of rich Delhi takes a bus, and another one-third walk or cycle because it is too poor to even take the bus.

Can the government write off the costs - Nano style - so that all can buy the car? Can the government pay for our parking, our roads and our fuel, so that all can drive the car? If not, then is this the right right at all?

The issue, then, is not the right to own a Nano. The issue is the right to a slice of the public subsidy so that everybody has the right to mobility. There is no other right.

Based on excerpts from Down to Earth Editorial
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