Push for electric vehicles, Metro ph-III
Electric vehicles and mass transit systems got a major push in this year’s Union budget with an increase in allocations for rapid rail network and incentives for electric vehicles.
The Delhi Metro Corporation (DMRC) was allocated a grant of Rs 414.70 crore, which officials said would be used only for the expansion of the Noida and Ghaziabad lines as part of phase III expansion project.
No money was, however, separately allocated for metro phase 4. Work on phase-IV is yet to begin despite the Delhi government and the Centre both clearing the project. The six lines are stuck over differences over funding.
Senior government officials said the all-India allocation for the Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) and Metro Projects head was increased from Rs 15,600 crore in 2018-19 to Rs 19,152 crore this year, a nearly 23% spike. Money from this head will be used to fund phase-IV as soon as work begins on the project, officials added.
“If phase-IV is cleared tomorrow, then we have the provision to allocate money for the project from the centralised fund,” said a senior official.
The Centre has cleared three “priority” corridors — Aerocity to Tughlakabad, R. K Ashram to Janakpuri West and Maujpur to Mukundpur — under phase IV, against Delhi government’s proposal of six corridors.
Delhi Metro was separately given a grant of Rs 414.70 crore, as against Rs 50 crore in the last fiscal, for the expansion of metro lines in Noida and Ghaziabad under phase-III project. Delhi Metro plans to expand its operations till Greater Noida and connect Noida Electronic City with Indirapuram in Ghaziabad.
“As of now, the plan is that the Rs 414 crore will be utilised for the expansion of the lines to NCR regions under phase-III,” a metro spokesperson said on Friday.
As part of the Centre’s plan to provide fast, safe and affordable mobility options, especially in NCR, the government had allocated ₹974.25 crore for the development of the country’s first Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) in the interim budget, an increase of ₹315 crore over the last year. In the 2018-19 budget, the Centre had allocated ₹659 crore.
With the National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC), tasked with the construction of three RRTS projects in NCR, starting work on the Delhi-Meerut line, the 82-km long corridor is likely to bring travel time between the two cities to less than 60 minutes.
The second RRTS project between Delhi-Alwar has been approved by the Haryana and Rajasthan governments and is awaiting the Delhi government’s approval.
“Investment on mass transit systems is a welcome move. The coming of the RRTS for example will ease the population load on Delhi as those coming to the city for employment will no longer require to stay here because of easy commuting options. It will also lead to the development of smaller towns,” said Manav Gautam, an independent urban mobility researcher.
Electric mobility saw a major push in the budget with goods and services tax (GST) being reduced from 15% to 12% to make electric vehicles more affordable.
The budget also proposed an additional income tax deduction of Rs 1.5 lakh on the interest of loans taken for the purchase of e-vehicles. This will be in addition to the proposed incentives planned by the Delhi government in its draft electric vehicle policy for the national capital.
“These incentives address the concern of the upfront cost of purchasing electric vehicles. It now becomes imperative that original equipment manufacturers chalk out a plan to allow the industry to scale up and meet the demand for compelling mass products,” said Tarun Mehta, co-founder of Ather Energy, an electric vehicle startup.