India's fast-increasing vehicle population is giving rise to a typical issue - having to deal with old and unusable vehicles that have reached the end of the lifespan and are sold as scrap. To deal with this problem, the government is looking to set up 10 modern recycling centres by 2014, where these vehicles would be dismantled, useful materials recovered and the remaining recycled.
"Even as the auto industry is doing well in India and the number of vehicles has gone up, there is no organised mechanism for the recycling of used vehicles," a senior official at the ministry of heavy industries told Mail Today.
On Thursday, the ministry unveiled a recycling and dismantling demonstration centre at the Global Automotive Research Centre (GARC) at Oragdum in Chennai with support of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM). "This is just a beginning. We have a target of setting up 10 more centres across the country by the end of 2014," the official said.
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According to the official the ministry is also looking at bringing in modern facilities and technologies from western countries for recycling metal and plastic parts.
Initially, the centre will focus on two-wheelers. Two-wheelers account for 80 per cent of India's vehicle population by number and about 40 per cent by weight. Later, these centres will take on the task of recycling four-wheelers and commercial vehicles.
"Auto recycling is the need of the hour. Considering the growth of the auto sector, we may have to dispose of over 25,000 tonnes of auto residues by next year," the official said. "These volumes will keep on multiplying keeping pace with the growth of the industry. So this sector has to go hand in hand with auto manufacturing," the official added.
At present the sector is largely unorganised. According to the official, recycling of automobiles will create large-scale employment as initially it will employ mostly manual labourers. The government is already in talks with the auto industry to develop a skilled work force for the auto recycling industry.
Concurrently, there is a need for modern facilities for recycling and recovering materials from these vehicles, which are at the end of their useful life. In Europe and other developed countries, the auto recycling industry goes hand in hand with the automobile production industry. It is mandatory to recycle the vehicles after the end of their lifespan.
However, in India there is no such regulation to deal with old and non-useable automobiles. Mostly, such vehicles are sold as scrap where auto parts are dismantled and then sold separately. After that the metal parts are recovered. But due to the lack of modern techniques, the process is highly polluting and low on recovery.
The new centres will train and help upgrade the current units in the unorganised sector.