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Experts find gaps in Delhi’s Electric Policy, say it’s too heavy on subsidies

Experts said the policy, which was debated at length in a day-long workshop organised by the government’s Dialogue and Development Commission of Delhi (DDCD), is heavy on subsidies, some of which are “misplaced”.

delhi Updated: Dec 19, 2018 13:04 IST
Sweta Goswami
Sweta Goswami
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The Delhi government published its draft electric policy 2018 in November.
The Delhi government published its draft electric policy 2018 in November. (Raj K Raj/HT File )
         

The draft Delhi Electric Policy, 2018, published by the Delhi government last month is set to undergo major changes after experts and stakeholders on Tuesday pointed out loopholes while also suggesting improvements.

Experts said the policy, which was debated at length in a day-long workshop organised by the government’s Dialogue and Development Commission of Delhi (DDCD), is heavy on subsidies, some of which are “misplaced”.

Jasmine Shah, chairperson of DDCD, confirmed that the policy will now be reviewed in order to discourage high-level of subsidies.

Subsidies need to be reworked

Representatives of cab-hailing service Ola (ANI Technologies Pvt Ltd.) said the policy currently focuses only on ‘purchase’ of electric vehicles.

“The government should give a subsidy based on usage instead of purchase. If an electric scooter is bought as a third or fourth vehicle, on top of diesel and petrol ones, the usage of the e-bike is going to be the lowest,” an official from Ola said.

Experts feared that heavily subsidising the EV market would not lead to reduction in costs which, currently, are at least twice the price of its petrol/diesel counterparts. App-based cab aggregator companies also suggested that non-fiscal subsidies, such as offering premium parking spaces to e-vehicles, should be considered.

Relying heavily on electrifying the public transport and commercial segment of Delhi’s vehicular population, the draft EV policy offers subsidies of up to Rs 20,000 for purchase of new electric two-wheelers, goods carriers and rickshaws, to name a few.

To ensure higher usage of e-vehicles, officials of Bajaj Auto suggested that subsidies on batteries be introduced – an aspect which is currently missing in the draft policy.

Equal opportunity to all EV variants

The DDCD chairperson and the state transport department acknowledged that the policy, in its current form, provides more incentives to the battery swapping models.

“We would work on conductive charging (commonly known as overnight or plug-in charging) models as well. The policy stressed on battery swapping because the aim is to electrify two-wheelers first as they comprise 7.3 million of the over 10 million registered vehicles in Delhi. The plan is to introduce two-wheeler taxis and ride-sharing, which would mean multiple trips and would require charging more than once a day,” Shah said.

Safety

Representatives from urban mobility think tanks said the draft policy does not address the safety element — of vehicles, motorists and passengers.

TERI and World Resources Institute (WRI) demanded a uniform standard for batteries that people could use in their electric vehicles. “There have been a few cases wherein lithium-ion batteries have become a safety hazard when they were put on charge. Also, if the government is looking at completely electrifying last-mile connectivity options, then it has to be a robust system with GPS, helpline numbers and proper traffic regulations,” a member said.

What about the existing vehicles?

The policy, experts said, does not offer anything to those who want to get their petrol/diesel cars or goods carriers retrofitted with batteries.

“Incentives should be given to owners who want to convert their cars into EVs. Instead of forcing people to purchase new EVs, which would only add to Delhi’s congestion, guildelines with standardized battery types (or retrofitting kits) along with subsidies should be provided,” a representative of Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers said.

The suggestions will be compiled by the DDCD and reviewed by the transport department. Once finalised, the draft policy will be tabled before the cabinet for approval.

First Published: Dec 19, 2018 13:04 IST

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