Updated: August 15, 2020 1:26:43 pm
The Delhi Electric Vehicles Policy was notified on August 7, over eight months after the state Cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal approved it. Following the notification, Kejriwal described it as a step towards reducing pollution levels.
Delhi is among the world’s most polluted cities, with its air quality turning particularly hazardous with the onset of winter as gaseous pollutants from vehicular emissions are joined by soot-laden smoke from the fields of Punjab and Haryana where farmers set alight farm residue after harvesting. The bursting of firecrackers during Diwali also aggravates the problem.
The policy has been notified for a period of three years, following which it can be renewed in the present form or after suitable amendments.
What is the primary objective of the policy?
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The policy, according to its bare text, aims to make Delhi the Electric Vehicle (EV) capital of India. It has set an ambitious target of ensuring that by 2024, EVs account for 25% of all new vehicle registrations in the national capital to bring about a “material improvement” in Delhi’s air quality by reducing emissions from the transport sector.
What is the share of vehicular emissions in Delhi’s pollution?
According to an IIT-Kanpur study, which remains the most authoritative source apportionment analysis (share of specific sources of pollution) of Delhi’s air pollution till date, vehicles are the second largest and the “most consistent” – around 20-25% – contributing source of pollutants PM10 and PM2.5, which are fine particulates measuring up to 30 times finer than the width of human hair. The Supreme Court-monitored Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority had also pointed out that industrial and vehicular pollution account for the greatest share of Nitrate particles formed from nitrogen oxides and sulphate particles formed from sulphur dioxides in the city.
What promise does the EV policy hold in cleaning up Delhi’s air?
Currently, the share of EVs is negligible in Delhi, be it two-wheelers, autos or cars. Within the next one year, the Delhi government aims to induct at least 35,000 EVs across segments and the five-year plan envisages induction of 5 lakh EVs. “Over their lifetime, these EVs are estimated to avoid approximately Rs 6,000 crores in oil and liquid natural gas imports and 4.8 million tonnes of CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions, which is equivalent to avoiding CO2 emissions from nearly 1 lakh petrol cars over their lifetime. They will also help avoid about 159 tonnes of PM 2.5 (fine particulate matter) tailpipe emissions,” according to an official document.
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What roadmap does the policy lays out in transitioning to electric mobility?
The policy is incentive-driven, which the government believes will encourage people to buy new EVs, scrap cars running on petrol and diesel. It has provisions for low-interest loans for battery-run commercial vehicles like buses and trucks. The policy lays a particular emphasis in the category of two-wheelers, autos, and goods carriers and will, for the first time, allow ride-hailing services such as Ola and Uber and last mile delivery platforms such as Zomato and Swiggy to operate battery-driven bikes. “All two-wheelers engaged in last-mile deliveries (e.g., food delivery, e-commerce logistics etc.) will be expected to transition 50% of their fleet to electric by March 2023, and 100% of their fleet by March 2025,” the policy states. Currently, two-thirds of new vehicle registrations in Delhi comprise two-wheelers. From 2020, the government has also committed to ensure that 50 per cent of its new public bus purchases are pure electric buses.
What are the various purchase and scrapping incentives on offer?
In case of bikes, a purchase incentive of Rs. 5,000 per kWh of battery capacity shall be provided per vehicle to the registered owner, subject to maximum incentive of Rs 30,000 per bike. Up to Rs 5000 will be granted for scrapping old petrol and diesel-run bikes and purchase EVs. Those buying e-autos will get Rs 30,000 subsidy and Rs 7500 additional subsidy for scrapping old CNG-run autos. There will be no cap on the number of e-autos unlike CNG-run ones which cannot exceed 1 lakh in the city. Purchase of e-rickshaws will also come with a Rs 30,000 inventive. Similar incentives will be granted to the purchase of the first 10,000 battery-driven goods carriers. In case of four-wheelers, the first 1000 purchases of e-cars stand to get subsidies of up to Rs 1.5 lakh per vehicle. And lastly, the road tax and registration fees shall be waived for all EVs, says the policy.
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What about the creation of charging infrastructure to support this major transition?
The policy recommends changes in building bye-laws so that all new homes and workplaces are ‘EV ready’ with 20% of all vehicle holding capacity/parking equipped with charging points. The purchase of charging points will also be incentivised to the tune of Rs 6,000 per charging point for the first 30,000 such points. The existing building owners and RWAs will be “encouraged” to follow suit through similar incentives as well. The policy lists as its key objective the creation of public charging facilities within three km travel from anywhere in Delhi by inviting companies to set up charging and battery swapping stations at “bare minimum lease rentals” and full reimbursement for purchases of swappable batteries by them.
What about recycling of batteries?
The policy acknowledges that lack of adequate reuse or recycling of batteries shall have a “high environmental cost”. Typically, an EV needs two batteries in its life span of around 10 years. However, the policy does not have details on ways and means to recycle batteries. It merely states “the policy shall encourage the reuse of EV batteries that have reached the end of their life and setting up of recycling businesses in collaboration with battery and EV manufacturers that focus on ‘urban mining’ of rare materials within the battery for re-use by battery manufacturers.”
Who will fund the incentives?
The policy refers to the ‘feebate’ concept’, which refers to the concept under which inefficient polluting vehicles incur a surcharge, while efficient ones receive a rebate. Accordingly, it seeks to create an EV fund made up of pollution cess on, additional road tax on petrol and diesel vehicles, “especially luxury cars”, congestion fee on rides taken using cab aggregators (except those running on batteries). Currently, a Rs 25 paise per litre cess is levied on sale of diesel in the city, which makes up the air ambience fund. Every month, 50 per cent of the amount collected in that fund will be transferred to the EV fund. And if the government still falls short of money, the Supreme Court’s assistance will be sought in using the Environment Compensation Charge fund, made up of tax imposed on commercial vehicles entering Delhi.
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