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India: Is India ready for a green drive?

Three lakh electric vehicles on the roads by 2020 would mean a reduction of over 16 lakh metric tons of pollution and savings of over Rs 3,700 crore in foreign exchange over the same period.

Go Green’ is the motto for all leading economies of the world, as reflected by the increasing focus on electric vehicles. US President Obama has envisioned a target of one million electric cars on US roads by 2015 and allocated USD 2.4 billion to boost the development of electric vehicles. Almost 17 European Union nations including UK, France, Belgium, Italy and Spain provide specific tax rebates to promote usage of electric cars. China has also joined the green initiative and has plans to produce one million electric vehicles annually by 2015. However in India, we are still testing the waters to understand the sustainability of these vehicles in the long run.

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The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has been the frontrunner in taking initiatives for promotion and adoption of electric vehicles. In November 2010, the ministry formulated the Alternative Fuels for Surface Transportation Programme under which it provided 20 per cent subsidy to the manufacturers. The Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh also announced the formulation of an apex body, the National Council for Electric Mobility (NCEM) which would have representation by various ministries to devise a holistic policy for promotion of electric vehicles in the country.

It is expected that under this initiative, the government will make regulations specific to financial incentives for manufacturers, parking and toll benefits to customers and research and development grants to build next generation technologies. The Department of Heavy Industries is leading the initiative with Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Environment and Forests being the other bodies involved.

The key objective of the NCEM is to provide sustainable electric mobility to make electric vehicles a viable alternate vehicle by ensuring adequate support infrastructure for sufficient dissemination of electric vehicles. The Union Budget also proposed full exemption from basic customs duty and a concessional rate of excise duty on batteries imported by electric vehicles manufacturers. All these recent developments highlight the growing emphasis of Indian government on encouraging the growth of electric vehicles


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