The prices of vehicles that India’s Members of Parliament (MPs) are entitled to purchase from the disposal stocks of the armed forces have remained somewhat inflation- and even depreciation-proof at least for the past five years.
“To facilitate the MPs in the performance of their duty at their respective constituencies”, the defence ministry releases vehicles from its disposal stocks each year.
Vehicles that have crossed a specified mileage or have become old are discarded by the defence forces, mostly the Army. They are deposited with ordnance factories and replaced with new vehicles.
Apart from offering them to MPs, the Army makes such “surplus vehicles” available to ex-servicemen and widows as well.
Interestingly, the parliamentary standing committee on defence for 2017-18, in its 40th report submitted to Parliament in March 2018, had observed in the context of the availability of such vehicles to widows and ex-servicemen, that the scheme is likely to be scrapped.
“Due to a very low availability of vehicles leading to a very long waiting period and the fact that these vehicles are not compliant to latest pollution norms, the scheme has lost its relevance and is likely to be closed down,” it had stated. The scheme, however, has continued.
MPs can get up to three vehicles from jeep, Jonga and motorcycles in any combination during their tenure, and can also buy one Ambassador car (class V) or Maruti Gypsy within the entitlement of the three vehicles.
On Thursday, the Rajya Sabha secretariat released the prices of these vehicles for the current financial year.
The prices fixed for 2019-20 are: Ambassador car (class V) for Rs 22,415; Mahindra (550XD diesel) for Rs 81,472 and Rs 84,401 for the four-wheel drive variant, Royal Enfield 350 cc motorcycle for Rs 29,028 and Hero Honda motorcycle 100 cc for Rs 2,711.
Three variants of Maruti Gypsy cost Rs 34,495, Rs 63,996 and Rs 70,217. Ambassador cars and Maurti Gypsy vehicles are no longer in production.
The 2018-19 prices of these vehicles were: Ambassador car, Rs 20,873, Mahindra variants, from Rs 60,586 to Rs 64,943 (for M&M Jeep 550XD diesel), Royal Enfield motorcycle, Rs 31,687, Hero Honda 100 cc motorcycle, Rs 2,459, while the three Maruti Gypsy variants were priced at Rs 26,466, 59,137 and Rs 75,524.
The prices fixed for 2014-15 for these vehicles were: Ambassador, Rs 25,943, Mahindra 550XD diesel, Rs 86,315, Royal Enfield motorcycle, Rs 28,634 and Hero Honda motorcycle 100 cc, Rs 4,381. The three variants of Maruti Gypsy were priced at Rs 49,944, Rs 67,958 and Rs 84,947.
According to a written reply to a question during the previous session of Parliament in June-July, Minister of state for defence, Shripad Naik, said that 36 MPs availed of the scheme in 2017-18. The names of the MPs and the types of vehicles bought were not identified.