The government is considering a set of "reward and punishment" measures as part of a new public transport policy. The draft policy is being finalized by the Planning Commission and is expected to be ready by next week so that it can be shared with various ministries. The push for the policy came from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The policy, when formulated, could align India with several developed and high-octane economies like China, which are trying to delink their transport systems from the growth of inefficient private vehicles. With the sale of SUVs and other fuel guzzlers rising by 60% between 2000 and 2004, and expected to jump much higher if unchecked, one of the proposals before the government is to levy the highest amount of entry tax, parking and congestion charges on these inefficient class of vehicles.
At the other end of the efficiency spectrum, the much cleaner hybrid and hydrogen-based cars and buses could be rewarded with reduced customs duty. Domestic manufacturers of electric and hydrogen vehicles could also benefit from lowered excise duty if the proposals are accepted. The government is seriously considering the carrot-and-stick approach once fuel efficiency norms are in place. Some quarters within the government are also proposing financial disincentives in the form of continuous increase in excise duties for fuel inefficient and high greenhouse gas producing vehicles. The most fuel efficient vehicles in each category could enjoy duty rebates. In order to correct an imbalance and provide fiscal support to public transport, the policy could also recommend reworking excise rates at the central level and registration fees and road taxes at the state level in favour of buses and other forms of efficient public transport systems.
While the bus crisis in Delhi drew attention for a while, the Planning Commission estimates a demand of 9.97-10.87 lakh buses across the country in the 11th Plan period. State transport undertakings today run 1.13 lakh buses but carry more than 6 crore passengers per day. The buses are, however crowded out by private vehicles, which constitute 81% of the total registered vehicles on road and yet carry out only 50% of the journeys performed every year. Source: timesofindia.com