A study by the International Council on Clean Transportation, Milken Institute School of Public Health from George Washington University, and the University of Colorado Boulder, revealed that vehicular emission is one of the biggest sources of air pollution in the world and caused 3.85 lakh deaths globally in 2015, out of which, 74,000 deaths were reported in India alone. Thus, in order to tackle air pollution, India first needs to address the fuel that vehicles use
Apart from initiatives like the Government of India’s Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles – Phase II (FAME India II) scheme, various state governments have also tried to take small steps to promote citizens to switch from fossil fuels to environmentally friendly fuels. However, the most notable and ambitious plan in this direction has been that of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) in that it aims to make Delhi India’s electric vehicle (EV) capital by the year 2024. Team Urban Update tries to analyse GNCTD’s ambition and assess if the pioneering yet far-fetched goals that the government has set are achievable in the narrow time frame or not.
What is Delhi’s EV Policy?
Through the Delhi Electric Vehicle Policy 2020 or the DEVP 2020, the GNCTD wishes to revamp government’s approach to kick-start the push for adoption of electric vehicles in Delhi. In order to achieve this aim, the government has laid out the following aproaches:
Financial Incentives – Purchase incentives, Scrapping incentives, Interest subvention on loans.
Waiver of road tax and registration fees.
Establishment of a wide network of charging stations and swappable battery stations.
Administration of the policy including constitution of State Electric Vehicle Board, establishment of a dedicated EV cell, and developing an intensive public outreach programme focused on creating awareness about the benefits of electric vehicles.
Setting up of Skill Centers with provision for training related to jobs in the EV eco-system and creation of jobs.
Setting up of Recycling Ecosystem for Batteries.
Creation of an umbrella, non-lapsable ‘State EV Fund’, to be fundedthrough the air ambience fund, levy of additional taxes, cess, fee etc., on inefficient or polluting vehicles.
According to Dr RS Minhas, Deputy Chief General Manager, Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC), the policy not only focusses on ways to push for wider adoption of EV but also keeps in mind the infrastructure that needs to be put in place to handle outcomes once EVs are adopted. Knowing that an appropriately placed charging infra is a pre-requisite for the success of the policy and that batteries from EVs need safe handling and disposal, the government will simultaneously work on all cylinders to fire up a sustainable and self-sufficient EV ecosystem in Delhi.
What has been done so far?
Since the DEVP 2020 was implemented in August this year, it is obvious that not a lot has been done on-the-ground so far. However, in a little over a month, the GNCTD constituted the Charging Infrastructure Working Group (CIWG) which held its first meeting in mid-September this year. At the meeting, it was decided that keeping in mind the multiplicity of civic agencies in Delhi, the task of setting up nearly 200 charging stations in less than a year would be taken up by not only the Delhi government but also the three Municipal Corporations of Delhi, the New Delhi Municipal Council, the Delhi Development Authority, the Public Works Department, the Transport department, DTC and the Delhi Transco Ltd., etc. Jasmine Shah, Chairman, CIWG, was quoted saying in a press release that coordination and communication is key to the successful implementation of the policy. Not only this, all agencies working together will also ensure that each and every inch of the city is covered with diligence. The CIWG aims to make a charging station available at every three kilometres across the city.
In addition to this, the GNCTD is also looking to induct 2,000 electric buses in its massive fleet of public transport buses by the end of next year. The government has already floated a tender for the first batch of 300 low-floor electric buses on a build, own, operate and transfer (BOOT) basis. Addition of electric buses to DTC’s fleet will help in reducing a large amount of the city’s vehicular pollution while also encouraging private players to invest in the scheme by setting up private charging stations, buying electric vehicles for professional purposes, etc.
The GNCTD has also ensured that by early 2021, they will begin rolling out category based incentives for both two and three-wheelers in the city in order to realize the dream of having 5 lakh (25 per cent of all new vehicle registrations) electric vehicles in Delhi by 2024. These incentives may amount to a maximum of Rs 1.5 lakh. In order to set an example, the GNCTD will also be switching its entire fleet to electric vehicles by August next year.
What more can be done?
According to experts like Dr Minhas, the DEVP 2020 is a flagship policy of the Delhi government. If implemented precisely, it will turn out to be a milestone in Delhi’s dream of becoming the EV capital of India. However, he noted that despite the various initiatives of the Delhi government, help from neighbouring states is of equal importance too.
Since Delhi witnesses a regular and massive inflow of vehicles from the states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh every day, it is extremely important for the governments of the respective states to also undertake similar initiatives. Dr Minhas said, “Till the time the governments of our neighbouring states do not undertake planned policies for pushing for adoption of EVs in their states, it will be very difficult to witness a pronounced change in Delhi’s pollution levels. This is mostly because vehicles from these states sometimes do not even follow minimal vehicular emission standards.”
The GNCTD must also push for attracting private players in the implementation stage of the scheme. If and when stakeholders like online taxi services, and food and e-commerce delivery executives begin using EVs, a substantial change is predicted to be visible in the mindsets of the people of Delhi. “They must become trend setters and lead with example,” said Dr Minhas. It is clear that the DEVP is an ambitious and seemingly far-fetched dream of the Delhi government. However, it is also clear that the government, Delhi’s civic agencies and the central government are working tirelessly to make this dream a reality.
It will be safe to say that although Delhi seems to be on track to become the EV capital of the country, a lot still needs to be done in a very short amount of time.