You may have seen them, by the side of the street, in a backyard, down a back alley, rusting piles of metal that once used to be cars.
An abandoned vehicle is not a new phenomenon. Nor is it an uncommon sight – authorities have cleared 303 such vehicles in two weeks in Chennai (April 2018), 188 in Navi Mumbai (January 2018) while in Noida, close to 298 vehicles lie unclaimed in just the police stations (December 2017). In Pune, nearly 50000 vehicles are estimated to be rotting on the roadsides.
Where do these abandoned vehicles come from?
Most of these vehicles have simply been abandoned by their owners because they are no longer functional or useful. Owners abandon end-of-life vehicles because they are unaware of organized ways to dispose them of or recycle them.
Why are abandoned vehicles a problem?
Aside from the obvious concerns that they encroach upon public space, abandoned cars are also a major environmental hazard. Aging vehicles don’t always need to be on the road to cause damage to the environment.
Several of these discarded vehicles will have their batteries, tyres, paint and other components left intact. When these parts begin to decay, they release hazardous substances into the environment.
The coolant and other liquids leak and seep into the ground and contaminate the groundwater. Car batteries have acids and oils that may leak and cause more harm, as the vehicle deteriorates.
What happens to these vehicles?
In India, the problem is yet to receive proper attention. Even with the civic bodies’ attempts to collect these cars, the issue of their storage and subsequent disposal remains. Usually, the space to store such vehicles is hard to find. Even if the space could be arranged, the cars end up rotting there in a massive pile, thus continuing to pose a threat as before.
When such a vehicle is finally sent to the scrap-yard for disposal, the manner in which it is disposed of is unscientific and detrimental to the environment. Scrap dealers often simply drain out the fluid into the ground. The car tyres are sent to landfills and pose a grave threat to the environment. These piles of tyres often catch fire, and release massive quantities of particulate matter into the environment. A study, released by an NGO called Chintan in April 2018, reported that nearly 60% of abandoned tyres end up in landfills in India.
What can we do about it?
A lot. Much of the material in a vehicle can be recycled. If India can develop a proper recycling system, over 15 lakh tonnes of steel scrap, 1.8 lakh tonnes of aluminium and 75,000 tonnes of plastic and rubber can be recovered by 2020 alone.
If you are an owner of an end-of-life vehicle think about the damage you could cause before you abandon or dispose it of haphazardly. Your car may be old, but you can still get some value for it.
Cero has set up an organized and state-of-the-art recycling initiative. The company will value your car, pay you for it, pick it up and dispose it of in an eco-friendly way. All you have to do is pick up the phone and call.