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Monday, November 22, 2010

Selling global warming down the river for 40 rupees....

I have a diesel car, for which I have not been able to get a Pollution Under Certificate for years, even though, when I bought it five years back, it was supposed to have the Bharat I norms (the latest norms then). After going to PUC kiosks all around Delhi (and finding it failed to pass the emission norms everywhere), I got the Catalytic Convertor cleaned, the engine tuned up..and yet it failed to get a Certificate.
For months i was puzzled: here was a new car, a privately owned, sparingly used one, with the manufacturer promising the latest emission norms, and yet it failed : its emissions were way above normal.
Well, having been a student of TERI, the guilt of contributing to global warming was only surpassed by my fear of being caught everytime I passed a traffic constable, for not having a valid PUC certificate.
Well, I thought, maybe the new emission standards were so stringent (Bharat IV or is it V now?) that my car could not pass...or maybe something was wrong with my engine...or maybe I was driving my car badly...??
The mechanic at the Workshop cleared up the mystery: "No car can pass those norms...give the man at the PUC kiosk a hundred-buck note, and ask him to issue the certificate...you people don't know how to get these things done..."
The legal cost of the PUC is 60 rupees.
This sunday, I went to a kiosk, and told him I wanted a PUC.
He said, "Okay, line up the car, and I'll charge you sixty bucks whether it passes or fails the test"
"Oh", I said, "It will fail the test. Just take a hundred bucks, and adjust something, and pass it"
The guy gave me a broad smile. "Okay. Line up the car".
I lined up the car in line with his computer, so that he could take a pic using his webcam. He took a pic, and asked, "Do you actually want to test it?"
"Not at all. I just want the certificate"
In two minutes, he put in my car number, and hey presto!, he printed out my certificate...
I remembered all those classes while I was doing my Master's Degree in Public Policy and Sustainable Development right under RK Pachauri's nose in TERI, the theory about "socially acceptable costs of pollution", the Kyoto Protocol, the "Cap and Trade Regime", cutting down on global warming, and most of all, the great incorruptible "Control and Command" model of environmental conservation...all to be sold down the river for a measly forty rupees....
How about the "Bribe and Barter" system of pollution control, folks?

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