New Maharashtra policy gives push to electric vehicles
In a fillip to electric transportation in the state, the Maharashtra government on Thursday revealed its Electric Vehicles (EV) Policy 2021, as part of which electric vehicles are aimed to comprise 10% of all new vehicle registrations by 2025. The draft policy is currently awaiting a final nod from the state cabinet. The policy also aims substitute all government vehicles in major cities with EVs, starting April 2022, officials privy to the developments said.
The details were revealed during a webinar organised by the state environment department’s Majhi Vasundhara Abhiyan along with Climate Voices — a consortium of three advocacy groups working pan-India, on Thursday.
Ashish Kumar Singh, additional chief secretary (transport), Maharashtra, and head of the committee responsible for drafting the policy, said, “Today Maharashtra’s share of the country’s (electric) vehicle registrations is around 12% (32,000) but the size is still not large enough to excite manufacturers. We are keen on taking advantage of the schemes by the Government of India. Maharashtra is the leading manufacturer of internal combustion engines, and our EV Policy aims to make it a leading manufacturer of electric vehicles as well.”
As per officials, the new policy has distinct goals for five major urban agglomerations in the state, including the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), Aurangabad, Pune, Nagpur, and Nashik. One of the major goals is to convert around 25% of the existing public transport infrastructure (and last-mile delivery vehicles) in these cities to fully electric mode by 2025. Another ambitious objective that the draft policy has proposed is conversion of 15% of Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation’s existing bus fleet (of 18,000 vehicles) to electric mode during the same time.
“We also intend on providing full-scale EV infrastructure on four major arterial highways by 2025, namely Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway, Mumbai-Pune Express Highway, Mumbai-Nashik, and Nashik-Pune,” said Dr Avinash Dhakne, transport commissioner, Maharashtra. Additionally 1,500 EV charging stations in MMR, 500 in Pune, 150 in Nagpur, 100 in Nashik and 75 in Aurangabad have been proposed, he added.
Incidentally, this is not the first EV transportation policy of the state. Maharashtra had earlier adopted an EV policy in February 2018 which was drafted by the state department of industries. “However, that policy had focused largely on attracting investment and providing incentives, which was not enough. We are aiming to rely on infrastructure creation which is the main catalyst for companies to enter the market,” Dhakne explained.
In order to offset the ecological footprint of electric mobility — which requires large scale manufacture and use of lithium ion batteries — the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), under the aegis of the environment department, is also developing a parallel policy of its own. “We are drafting rules on recycling lithium ion batteries and other electronic waste that is likely to be generated due to boom in EV infrastructure,” said Sudhir Srivastava, chairman, MPCB.
Ashwin Mahesh, a city planning expert and founder of Project Lithium — hailed as India’s first zero emissions transport service which is headquatered in Bangalore, at Thursday’s webinar said, “At this early stage of development of EV sector, it is important for companies, that innovate early and correctly, to not only pursue their own success but also accept broader responsibility for the development of the ecosystem around them. Only this will ensure accelerated development of various possibilities within e-mobility.”
Madhav Pai, director, WRI India Ross Centre for Sustainable Cities, who hosted Thursday’s expert panel, emphasised that Maharashtra needs to capitalise on this rare opportunity mostly through creation of domestic demand, and not just developing industrial capabilities.