Though the government is currently pushing for the greater use of electric vehicles with an aim of cutting down on its imports for oil in order to save the environment, it has no plans to completely ban the use of petrol and diesel-powered vehicles in the near future, Dharmendra Pradhan, Oil Minister said. India's energy basket currently comprises of an 80 per cent demand for conventional energy sources like coal and oil with the demand for the same expected to grow further as the country's economy expands. Pradhan told the media that though electric vehicles are a priority, the increase in the requirement of fuel can only be met with a combination of BS-VI grade petrol and diesel, CNG and biofuels in sync with electric vehicles.
Niti Aayog, the policy think tank has proposed that only electric vehicles be sold in India beyond 2030. A panel headed by the Niti Aayog CEO, Amitabh Kant has suggested that post-2023, only electric three-wheelers be sold in India while post-2025, all two-wheelers under 150cc should be converted to EVs. Niti Aayog believes that the sale of only electric vehicles by 2030 is going to expand the scope of clean fuel technology beyond two-and three-wheelers in the country.
"Is there any government paper that mentions that petrol and diesel vehicles will be banned from a particular date?" Pradhan asked. "India cannot afford to do that." In 2018-19, the total consumption of petroleum products in India stood at 211.6 million tonnes. Out of this, 83.5 million tonnes constitute the diesel consumption while the petrol consumption stood at 28.3 million tonnes. Out of this, all the petrol, as well as most of the diesel, is consumed by automobiles which include cars, buses and trucks.
Pradhan said transport remains the most demanding sector for oil and such a wide base of automobiles will need a combination of fuels. "We will need CNG, PNG (piped natural gas), biofuels and biogas," he said. While the country will switch to the usage of ultra-clean BS-VI grade petrol and diesel, meeting emission standards equivalent to euro-VI fuels, from April 1, 2020, the government is aggressively pushing for increased usage of CNG by automobiles particularly in public transport. Even in petrol and diesel, it is mixing sugarcane-extracted ethanol and non-edible oils, respectively, to reduce dependence on conventional oil. Also, biogas generated from city and agriculture waste is being heavily promoted, he said.
India, he said, has energy demand that is growing at the fastest rate in the world and no one source can meet it. "It has to be a combination of fuels," he said. According to the Niti Aayog, 100 per cent EV sale by 2030 can reduce India's import dependence by a big margin. A joint study by the Niti Aayog and Rocky Mountain Institute, USA suggests that India can save 64 per cent of anticipated road-based mobility-related energy demand and 37 per cent of carbon emissions in 2030 by pursuing a shared, electric, and connected mobility future. India is currently 83 per cent dependent on imports to meet its oil needs. Petrol demand is witnessing double-digit growth rate, while diesel demand is rising by 5-6 per cent on the back of increasing automobile base. The country spent USD 112 billion (Rs 7.83 lakh crore) on importing oil in 2018-19 and a part of this can be cut with a complete switch to EVs, according to the Niti Aayog.