Go Back   Team-BHP > BHP India > The Indian Car Scene

View Poll Results: Do you agree with the article?
Agree 1 1.64%
Disagree 51 83.61%
Don't care 9 14.75%
Voters: 61. You may not vote on this poll

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 28th March 2007, 09:53   #1
Senior - BHPian
msdivy's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 1,495
Thanked: 971 Times
Default The hidden social cost of vehicles

The Centre for Science and Environment has launched a campaign to make drivers of cars and two-wheelers pay the full social cost that they impose on the economy, which I fully support. These costs are typically invisible to the public, but are real and gargantuan.

First, there is the cost of building and maintaining roads, bridges and flyovers. Roads cost several crore per kilometre, bridges and flyovers can cost hundreds of crores. Yet, these are free save for a few toll roads.

Second, traffic police and traffic lights cost large sums. No driver wants to pay for them. But when a power failure puts traffic lights out of action, traffic jams bring home to drivers their true value.

Third, we suffer hundreds of deaths and disabilities every year from road accidents. The cost of human life cannot be estimated, it is said. Yet, this cost is especially high in India, since the accident rate per vehicle is among the highest in the world.

Fourth, we suffer high costs of congestion. Time wasted is money wasted. Slow traffic consumes more fuel and pollutes more. In the US, says Sunita Narain of CSE, the cost of traffic congestion in 85 cities was estimated at a staggering $63 billion in 2003, on account of time wasted alone.

Fifth, cars impose high social costs by occupying parking space. Residential space in Delhi sells for Rs 1.5 lakh per square yard in most localities. So a parking lot 100 yards long and 20 yards wide has a social cost of Rs 30 crore. A single parking space of 23 sq m has a social cost of Rs 37.8 lakh. A car occupies more space than an office desk, yet the desk space pays full commercial rent while parking space costs just Rs 10 per day.

This is a huge, unwarranted subsidy, especially to those who keep their cars parked all day. In New York or Washington DC, parking costs $9 (Rs 400) per hour. CSE's efforts to raise the parking rate to Rs 120/day in Delhi were kayoed by the middle class and politicians. The parking space occupied by cars is estimated by CSE at 11% of Delhi's area, as much as all its parks put together. That is a measure of the social cost.

Sixth, vehicles impose high costs through pollution, which leads to respiratory and other disease. Respiratory disease is the number one killer in India. By subsidising petrol and diesel, we subsidise deaths by pollution. The impact is worst on poor pavement dwellers who live closest to the worst pollution.

Seventh, vehicular pollution causes smog that makes it impossible for planes to land in Delhi in winter, forcing them to travel to distant airports to dump their disgruntled passengers. This imposes high costs on the passengers, the airlines, and on tourism. India has barely scratched the surface of world tourism: it gets four million tourists per year, against China's 124 million. Yet, vehicular pollution strikes right at the peak of the tourist season. The cost to tourism must be huge.

There is little appreciation among politicians or the middle class of the huge social cost of cars. They cannot see that huge subsidies, mostly hidden, are being ladled out to car-owners. These need to be abolished and replaced with user charges or taxes that reflect the full social cost of cars. The Left front, which once supported high taxes on petrol, now acts as though petrol is a Fundamental Right. So does Sonia Gandhi. And so the government hands out Rs 25,000 crore to oil companies to keep the price of cooking and transport fuels low.

Indian petrol is more expensive and diesel just as expensive as in the US (though they are far costlier in Europe and Japan). So, you may think that we tax liquid fuels less than in Europe, but do not actually subsidise them. Wrong. If you compute the enormous social costs of cars enumerated above, you will find that car-owners are often getting a free ride.

Kerosene is subsidised because villagers use it for lighting and the middle class for cooking. Yet, the biggest single use of kerosene is probably for adulterating petrol and diesel. This ruins vehicle engines and increases pollution. In other countries, carbon taxes have been proposed or already imposed on fuels to curb emissions of greenhouse gases. I am a skeptic on global warming. But even I find it zany to actually subsidise carbon emissions, which is what current government policy does.

I am not among those who want cars to be abolished and replaced entirely by buses and trams. Public transport has an important place in cities, but so does private transport. I believe in the freedom of people to travel where and when they want. But this freedom imposes a wide array of hidden costs on a city economy, and car-owners should pay these costs in full. Otherwise we will be subsidising pollution, fuel adulteration, congestion, respiratory disease, and the disappearance of green spaces.
Source:The hidden social cost of vehicles by Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar

Last edited by msdivy : 28th March 2007 at 09:55.
msdivy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th March 2007, 10:04   #2
Team-BHP Support
Samurai's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Banglore-Udupi
Posts: 23,137
Thanked: 16,674 Times

I read this article in the paper, I was really disgusted. This author is really ignorant about facts.

1) Does he know we all pay road tax, some of us pay lifetime road tax for owning a car for just 2-3 years. Where does that money go?
2) Does he know that the roads are also used by trucks and buses. He writes as if roads are created for cars only.
3) Roads are destroyed because two main causes. (i) Badly laid because of the corrpution nexus between government officials and road contractors. (ii) Massively overloaded trucks allowed to ply freely by bribe happy police. No point coming after puny cars.
Samurai is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th March 2007, 10:15   #3
Senior - BHPian
himanshugoswami's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: !!!!
Posts: 2,025
Thanked: 1,086 Times

What about the massive direct and indirect employment generated by the auto industry, the taxes and cess paid by car owners that go towards infrastructure, education, lining the pockets of politicos et al?

I had great respect for Mr. Iyer but after reading this Swaminomics article in TOI, I was very disappointed. I have never read such a one sided piece from him ever!
himanshugoswami is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th March 2007, 10:21   #4
Team-BHP Support
benbsb29's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Brisbane
Posts: 8,375
Thanked: 4,455 Times

The so-called author probably doesnt own a vehicle, or else feeds off someone else, which makes the person ignorant to facts.

* If we pay road tax, we deserve proper roads, and not something which is more inclined to test the strengths of an SUV.
* Agreed vehicles contribute to pollution, but thats why there are emission norms. Vehicles which dont adhere to these need to be off the roads, and the answer is not abolishing vehicles altogether.
* Provide public transport which is accessible to the common man with respect to decent comfort, safety, and which are punctual. A look at any of the RTC buses is all it takes to understand this. When u risk the chance of being pickpocketed in public transport, or where women at times do not feel comfortable owing to leering eyes, people would anyday opt for private modes of transport.

I guess I can go on and on.... but we all know the reasons...
benbsb29 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th March 2007, 10:32   #5
navdeep's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Pune
Posts: 885
Thanked: 4 Times

Don't care what he has to say. Once the taxes starts being utilized properly. I might care what he has to say. Can govt. ensure people will be civilized enough to use public transport ? Public transport for everyone .. no cues .. no abusing. .. blah blah..
navdeep is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th March 2007, 10:34   #6
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Chennai
Posts: 399
Thanked: 4 Times

A better poll would be on how many of us *need* to drive cars everyday; may it be for whatever reason -distance, inadequate public transport, social image, comfort etc.
ballkey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th March 2007, 10:44   #7
Centro-P's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Toronto
Posts: 66
Thanked: Once

Ah that's one of the most stupid articles I have ever read. So he/she wants us to go back to driving bullock carts? All the 7 points he made are so dumb that it totally boils my blood. Could probably pick that article point by point, but don't want to waste time on this rather dumb article. Can't believe it actually got published in a paper.
Centro-P is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th March 2007, 10:49   #8
Senior - BHPian
msdivy's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 1,495
Thanked: 971 Times

Originally Posted by ballkey View Post
A better poll would be on how many of us *need* to drive cars everyday; may it be for whatever reason -distance, inadequate public transport, social image, comfort etc.
That would be an interesting poll too.

But this poll is about the 'campaign by CSE' mentioned in the article. For instance, we pay toll on some roads, which partially/fully covers the cost of that road. Similarly, should we pay toll to cover loss due to accidents, pollution, traffic police, parking space, etc?
msdivy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th March 2007, 11:03   #9
ad75's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Chennai
Posts: 265
Thanked: 20 Times

as said by others, we do pay lifetime road tax,which in itself is quite high.parking spaces which are on govt property are given to contractors after the govt recieves money for that.our road infra most of the times doesnt do good to our vehicles.does the author consider the cost of maintenance of the car due to bad roads?

we do pay for the technology which confirms to pollution norms.
ad75 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th March 2007, 11:07   #10
Team-BHP Support
theMAG's Avatar
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Avon, CT
Posts: 7,133
Thanked: 1,604 Times

Every development will have social implications - good and bad. the gap between the 2 types depends on the policies and more importantly- the successful enforcement of those policies.

The author seems to have reasons apart from merit for having written that article. Or he's a communist when it comes to dishing out opinions.
theMAG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th March 2007, 11:08   #11
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: N.A
Posts: 6,894
Thanked: 1,880 Times

ANYBODY that carries around such a long name must be quite self-centered. Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar is known for trying to make pointless points. The man loves to talk, and he will talk on any subject for the sake of his voice being heard. He also likes to talk a lot about his own tribe. People of that sort should not be taken seriously.

Read some of his other articles and you will know where he comes from - he is one of those that will argue for the sake of it.

DISCLAIMER: This is my personal opinion.
Steeroid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th March 2007, 12:42   #12
Senior - BHPian
kutlee's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Hyderabad
Posts: 1,127
Thanked: 204 Times

Forget about road tax. What about other taxes that we pay? If that is not used for national infrastructure buliding, what is it used for? If we have to pay seperately for every road, pollution etc, why should we pay other taxes and a govt to use those taxes properly for national interest? We can do everything on our own. So the govt is only for giving advises and eating our taxes mercilessy??
kutlee is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th March 2007, 12:57   #13
Senior - BHPian
esteem_lover's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Madras/Py
Posts: 7,556
Thanked: 452 Times

One of the stupidest articles that i have read. And how does mr. aiyar travel ? walks all the way ? Still, is he not using a part of the road, the pavement ?
esteem_lover is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th March 2007, 13:04   #14
Equus's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 900
Thanked: 180 Times

Sad to see this from him.. Some of his articles have been good in the past but thats that..
He is clearly beyond his sell by date now.
Equus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th March 2007, 13:32   #15
HKP's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Hyderabad
Posts: 112
Thanked: 12 Times
Thumbs down Swamy gone crazy

If we apply the same logic then, all those who make independant houses should pay more taxes and charges becoz they occupy space where an apartment could have been built.

Sometimes swamy writes really crazy stuff.
HKP is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
OHC OE Fog Lamps: Hidden treasure or Hidden trash? ankitahuja Modifications & Accessories 38 7th November 2012 00:04
Cost of Parts: 19 Cents; Cost of Shipping: $998,798!!! iraghava Shifting gears 4 18th August 2007 10:16

All times are GMT +5.5. The time now is 00:36.

Copyright 2000 - 2018, Team-BHP.com
Proudly powered by E2E Networks