New Delhi: The government should waive taxes on cycles that cost less than Rs.5,000 to promote cycle-ownership in the country, a new study by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in association with the All India Cycle Manufacturers Association said Wednesday.
Stressing on the importance of cycling as a mode of transport, the report, titled "Pedalling towards a greener India: A report on promoting cycling in the country", said the government must come up with a policy mechanism for the cycling industry to make it globally competitive.
The report called for initiating a technology-support scheme.
"Cycle industry upgradation fund scheme (CUFS) should be introduced to provide support to the bicycle industry," the report said.
Speaking on the occasion, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said use of bicycles should be promoted in a big way.
"Using cycle as a mode of transport has to be made a huge movement," the minister said.
He said if everyone takes up cycling, walking or running, 50 percent of their health problems will be taken care of and added that he would personally write to the surface transport and urban development ministers to take this idea forward.
Pankaj Munjal, co-chairman and MD, Hero Cycles, said cycles are not merely a means of commuting but also a tool for empowerment.
"In many rural areas where girls have been provided bicycles by the government, they have been able to continue their studies after standard eight, as they could commute to their schools or colleges located at a distance," Munjal said.
He added that bicycles have also enabled the poorest of the poor in remote villages to be involved in the larger economic system.
Munjal further called for government incentive in the bicycle manufacturing industry.
"With its cost efficiency, India can become an export hub if the government provides special export package for bicycle industry for Technology Upgradation Fund, special export incentives and measures to offset inland freight disadvantage to bring us to the level of China, which manages higher exports even after anti-dumping duty in Europe," he added.
The TERI report was based on examination of the key trends and issues with regard to the growth in cycle ownership and its use as well as the growth of the Indian cycle industry.
R.K. Pachauri, director general of TERI said: "Cycling as a means of providing mobility has substantial benefits, such as lower levels of air pollution and affordability for the poorest sections of society. Additionally, for urban dwellers leading sedentary lives, the use of bicycles provide physical exercise which is good for physical and mental health."