‘All govt vehicles will be converted into EVs’

Govt. will provide subsidy to buy electric cooking appliances

New Delhi, Feb 19 (FN Bureau) Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari on Friday pledged to convert all vehicles in his ministry to EVs and urged other departments to follow suit in a bid to cut India’s oil import dependence. The minister has also suggested providing subsidy to buy electric cooking appliances rather than giving support to buy expensive imported gas for cooking. Back of envelop calculation by the minister indicate that using 10,000 electric vehicles in Delhi alone can save Rs 30 crore every month. Besides, he stressed on electric cooking which is also cheaper than imported gas. Addressing at the launch Go Electric campaign, Gadkari said, ‘Why don’t we provide subsidy on electric cooking appliances. We already provide subsidy on cooking gas.’ He was of the view that electricity cooking is clean and will also reduces import dependence for gas. Gadkari suggested that use of electric vehicles should be made mandatory for all government officials. He informed that one electric vehicles save almost Rs 30,000 per month on fuel cost which comes to around Rs 30 crore a month for 10,000 vehicles.

He said if 10,000 electric vehicles were used by officials in Delhi, then Rs 30 crore per month can be saved. He further urged Power Minister R K Singh to make is mandatory to use electric vehicles for officials in his department saying he will do so for his departments. On this occasion, Singh also announced that a fuelcell bus service will be launched from Delhi to Agra and Delhi to Jaipur soon. Singh said, ‘We are going to start a premium bus services using fuelcell electric vehicles from Delhi to Jaipur and Delhi to Agra… totally premium… We will advertise (about) it and increase its (frequency).’ He said, ‘Our vision is ‘Go Electric and Green The Electricity’. So bring more and more sector to electricity. Mobility is one and cooking is another. Move away from firewood and gas. It (electricity) is cheaper than gas… that is the way to go… not the imported gas.’ He suggested a trajectory where five years down the line, no busses would be allowed in India unless they were electric; and four years down, all three-wheelers turn electric. About the Hydrogen Energy Mission announced in the Budget-2021, the minister stated, ‘We are going for green hydrogen bids in four to five month. We already have discussion with ministries of petroleum, steel and fertilisers.’ He informed about the government’s plan to replace 10 per cent of imported ammonia with green ammonia. He said, ‘We can add 10 per cent hydrogen in our gas. This will increase calorific value and reduce our (gas) imports. We can put a mandate that 10 per cent imported hydrogen for refining would be replaced by green hydrogen.’ Noting the green hydrogen is expensive at present, he stated that green hydrogen would be cheaper in next three years just like it happened with renewables. He cited the instance of solar energy where tariff dipped from Rs 15 per unit to Rs 1.99 per unit.

Later in a media interaction, he told that gone are the days for ‘Licences Raaj’ in electricity distribution business in the country as it would soon be de-licensed. The minister told that this would enable the consumer to choose from multiple electricity service providers in their area.

At present, either private or state-run, the electricity distribution utilities are monopolies and consumers have no option to change services providers. Singh also informed that the average increase in power demand was 10.5 per cent from October 2020 to January 2021 and the power demand grew at over 13 per cent in October, 2020. Thus, the power demand growth would be even higher when economy picks up pace (post pandemic), he added. He was of view that India’s imports of petroleum should reduce. About the import of gas in the country, he stated it is not a path to Aatmanirbhar Bharat and India needs to reduce import of gas. The Go Electric campaign is launched on Friday to spread awareness on the benefits of e-mobility and EV Charging infrastructure in India.