Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Monday said the battery swapping policy, as proposed by the Niti Aayog to promote advanced electric mobility, is not viable in India. The Niti Aayog said in a report that accelerated adoption of electric and shared vehicles could save USD 60 billion in diesel and petrol cost. It further said that this move could cut down as much as 1 gigatonne of carbon emissions for India by 2030. Stressing on the usefulness of standardised, smart and swappable batteries with lease and/or pay-per-use business models, Gadkari said, “The swapping (battery) policy I feel is not appropriate for the country because it is a very difficult thing… that is not going to be possible in the country.” Gadkari, who holds the portfolio of road transport, highways and shipping, spoke at the Smart Mobility Conference organised by Ficci. The minister said Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant had discussions with him on the issue, where he suggested that the idea is not viable and should be scrapped. Given high levels of pollution in Delhi and other places, electric vehicles for public transport besides vehicles on bio-fuel are the need of the hour and the government is working on charging infrastructure, the minister said further. Gadkari asserted that this mode of transport will check pollution as the 22 per cent annual growth in the automobile sector requires one additional lane of highway every third year at a cost of Rs 80,000 crore, which is not viable.
He dished out some statistics, saying his constituency Nagpur has already 200 electric taxis running while another 1,000 will be added by December. There are already 20 charging stations in the city while three types are being created that can charge a battery in 15 minutes flat. The cost of lithium ion batteries has already been slashed by 40 per cent and mass production could lead to further reduction in prices, Gadkari added. There are 12 manufacturers of lithium ion battery. The minister is set to hold discussions with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for electric vehicles in the city to be used mostly for public transport. One estimate puts Delhi’s requirement at 10,000 such buses. He also pitched for London transport model in the country, particularly Delhi, saying there are nine transporters in London City that take care of public transport. He termed the model as “successful with intelligent transport system”.
Terming smart mobility “a million dollar question” in the country, the minister said bikes on flex fuel are set to be rolled out here next month. He stressed the need for promoting bio fuel to combat pollution, highlighting the need for cost-effective, pollution free and indigenous system to deal with it. The petroleum ministry is working on a Cabinet note on manufacturing second generation ethanol from rice and wheat straws and a policy on checking crop burning is likely in a month. According to the minister, the Eastern Peripheral Expressway, which will be inaugurated in January, will reduce 50 per cent vehicular traffic on Delhi roads while the first phase of Delhi Meerut Expressway will be opened next month.