New Delhi: Union road transport minister Nitin Gadkari assured the automobile industry that Niti Aayog does not have the authority to set a deadline for transitioning to electric mobility. He said that there will be no hard and fast deadline and added that there will be no ban on petrol and diesel vehicles.
Speaking at the Mindmine summit, Gadkari said, “There is some proposal in NITI Aayog. But I am the minister. NITI Aayog has no authority. I am always telling you that we are not going to ban (petrol, diesel vehicles), there is no time limit. You don’t worry about the Niti Aayog recommendation…We will allow all vehicles to exist and let the fittest survive in the competition. Market forces will decide how things shape up.”
Niti Aayog’s response
It is interesting to note that Niti Aayog member VK Saraswat, who was sharing the dais with Gadkari, said, “Niti Aayog has also set some goals… I am very happy that the honourable minister has said that… Ministry of road transport will decide and not Niti Aayog, and I fully agree with that.”
Saraswat sings the official tune
Even though the Niti Aayog had recommended a ban on the sale of petrol/diesel three-wheelers from 2023 and two-wheelers of engine capacity up to 150 CC from 2025, Saraswat sang a different tune. He even mentioned how nearly Rs 30,000 crores spent by oil refineries in India to make BS-VI, which is considered to be cleaner, will go to waste if the government imposes a transition towards electric vehicles (EVs). “What will happen to all this? Will this create NPAs (non-performing assets)?” he asked.
The Niti Aayog member said that it would be incorrect to say that EVs with zero tailpipe emission is completely clean. Saraswat explained that as long as the power required to run EVs comes from thermal power plants, EVs are not going to be completely clean.
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He also said that if India imports 90 percent of the batteries required to run electric vehicles then no benefit will accrue.
‘Alternative fuel is key’
However, both Gadkari and Saraswat endorsed alternative fuels, including indigenously available methanol, ethanol and hydrogen fuel. “We need to give priority to alternative fuel that is economically sustainable and viable. We must reduce our dependence on import of crude oil,” said Gadkari.