The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI), Aayog in an attempt to cut down an annual oil import bill by some Rs 1.2 lakh crore in the next five to seven years has suggested improvising the two-wheelers by switching its internal combustion engine to electric, which would however require innovations, a policy regime that encourages access to latest technologies and a concerted effort by the Indian industry to achieve global competition through acquiring the necessary scale and using cutting edge technology.
Justifying the claim, NITI Aayog’s ‘Zero Emission Vehicles: Towards a Policy Framework’ report released on September 7, 2018 stated that India has over 170 million two-wheelers.
If we assume that each of these vehicles uses a little more than half a litre of petrol per day or about 200 litres per year, the total amount of petrol used by such vehicles is about 34 billion litres. At Rs 70 per litre as of now, this would cost about Rs 2.4 lakh crore. Even if we assume that 50 per cent of this is the cost of imported crude (as tax and other may be 50 per cent), one may save Rs 1.2 lakh crore worth of imported oil, the report stated.
The report has also clarified that India has a lot to gain by converting its internal combustion engine vehicles to electric vehicles at the earliest, as its oil-import bill would be considerably reduced. Internal combustion engine vehicles are a major contributor to pollution in cities and their replacement with electric vehicles will definitely improve air quality. There is a considerable possibility that we can become leaders in small and public electric vehicles.
Incidentally, minutes before releasing the report, Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi announced that the government will soon put in place a new stable policy regime to promote the use of electric and other alternative-fuel vehicles in the country to fight climate change.
Also just a week back, on August 27, 2018, the Delhi Government has directed that no officer can use more than one official vehicle irrespective of the number of charges they hold. The Official Order on this was issued a week back by Delhi’s General Administration Department (GAD) which also restricts the use of government vehicle for any private purpose.
The same order also directed all the Head of Departments to install GPS-enabled tracking devices in all the vehicles of corporations, boards and other government agencies. Vehicles hired from private contractors should also be GPS-enabled by September 2018.
The Finance Department was also instructed to ensure that there is regular periodic audit of the government vehicles. General pool for vehicles is restricted to the department where there are functional exigencies.
The action taken by Delhi Government is the need of the hour, which can immediately get the result and cut down on fuel consumption, which will surely bail the government out, at the same time reduce the oil import expenses. However NITI Aayog’s ‘Zero Emission Vehicles will take a long time to produce results.
In Meghalaya too, one can see the official vehicles utilized for daily School dropping and picking up duties. Officials also using their designated driver and at times, the escort for such duties. All commercial areas too can see the official vehicles being used for shopping of the family members, where the subordinate staff members are seen carrying the house-hold purchases, while the official vehicles are parked at nearest spot of shopping.
Another issue is the demand for Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) by the Officers and elected representatives in the sleepy hill station of Meghalaya in spite of the state’s chocked narrow lanes and by-lanes. At times due to a fleet of vehicles used by one official, overnight parking outside the compound is also common, causing inconvenience to the public.
The increase in number of vehicles is the main cause where none of the government offices have sufficient parking space, therefore, double or at times triple parking is witnessed outside the government offices on working days, so also in the case of banking institutions, educational institutions and hospitals. This has resulted in the congestion of the city, yet the incumbent Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) led by National People’s Party (NPP) headed by Conrad Kongkal Sangma, is seeking a solution to ease traffic jam from a Japanese firm!
The Goods and Services Tax (GST) has only segmented the tax from small to SUV for cars, they should also charge higher tax to the individuals owning more than one car, irrespective of the segmentation. Then only will the number of vehicles on the roads be cut down.
It would augur well for India if all state governments take a clue from the Delhi Government that no officer can use more than one official vehicle irrespective of the number of charges they hold. In the case of Meghalaya huge number of vehicles will be off the road, and the consumption of fuel will be cut down. After 5 to 7 years with NITI Aayog’s ‘Zero Emission Vehicles the country will surely have a much cleaner air quality, and the cost of oil import will further be slashed down from the Rs 1.2 lakh crore by more than three or four times.