Scrapping The Electric Vehicle Policy Is A Massive Environmental Violation

Posted by Avinash Tavares in Environment, Politics
February 23, 2018

I was outraged when I read Nitin Gadkari’s statement that there is no need for any EV policy now. Niti Ayog CEO, Amitabh Kant, seconded the statement of the Minister by saying, “What we need is just action plans.” This is madness and these two men are clearly incompetent, if not mindless slaves of the oil and automobile lobby.

For those who want to know the difference between action plan and policy, a Policy is a document which includes the vision, goals, and targets along with a framework or procedure on how to go about achieving the targets, goal and eventually the vision.  A policy may suggest changes in laws, propose schemes and incentives for the States, Government departments, individuals, producers, and consumers. On the other hand, an Action plan is a mere short-term plan for achieving an arbitrary objective.

According to Niti Aayog’s Kant, “Every day, new technology is coming into the market. Technology is always ahead of rules and regulations. And in India, it becomes very tough to change rules and regulations, so let there be just actions.” This is coming from a man who has failed miserably in implementing the so-called Digital India policy and the Start-Up policy. Maybe that is why he has lost confidence in policymaking and is opting for low-level action plans to hide his incompetence till the 2019 elections.

Earlier, Gadkari had said that he was waiting for approval of the EV Policy from the Union Cabinet. He had also outlined the government’s ambitions to shift to electric vehicles by 2030. Because of Gadkari’s commitment, at least 28 car makers were getting ready to launch their EV in India in various segments. So why did the Government do this U-Turn?

The Government has obviously buckled under the pressure of the Oil lobby and the Petrol and Diesel Vehicle lobby. Companies like Reliance have invested heavily in the retail fuel market.With the rapid growth in EV technology especially rapid charging, petrol-diesel vehicles will be surely replaced by EVs at an exponential rate. Companies like Suzuki who sell low-quality cars at exorbitant rates will lose their monopoly since their USP is Service and relativity cheaper spare parts. Compared to such conventional vehicles, EV vehicles have only a fraction of the moving parts i.e. electrical motors which directly drive the wheels.

When I visited China a couple of years ago, I was amazed by the popularity of EV vehicles. Every parking lot had a car charger. Even their multi-story car-parks had a charger for every lot.  You cant do all with a mere roadmap. It requires a comprehensive policy backed by political will.

By shelving the EV policy, Gadkari and Modi have not just betrayed our long-term economic interests, they have violated the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, they have condemned our cities and towns into many more years of hazardous pollution and they have denied the youth the new wave of jobs. EVs are far more beneficial to the environment. Yes, till the time India moves towards solar energy, the electricity for charging these vehicles will come from coal or natural gas. But companies like Tesla have made solar charging stations commercially viable in the US as well as Europe.

Companies like General Motors, Suzuki, Hyundai are being forced to switch to EV in their home countries in order to reduce their carbon footprint. The youth of this country has to question and condemn the Modi Government for their willingness to make India a dump polluting vehicles. We cannot allow the Government to abandon the EV policy. I urge everyone to tweet or write to Nitin Gadkari to take back his decision of shelving the EV policy immediately.