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Nitin Gadkari junks e-car battery swap plan, advocates London-style public transport for Delhi

Niti Aayog has in its report come out in favour of standardised, smart and swappable batteries with lease and/or pay-per-use business models. The report states that the accelerated adoption of electric and shared vehicles could save USD 60 billion in diesel and petrol cost.

Mail Today Bureau        Last Updated: November 21, 2017  | 09:25 IST
Nitin Gadkari junks e-car battery swap plan, advocates London-style public transport for Delhi

Transport minister Nitin Gadkari said on Monday that the battery swapping policy proposed by Niti Aayog to promote advanced electric mobility in the country is not viable in India. Niti Aayog has in its report come out in favour of standardised, smart and swappable batteries with lease and/or pay-per-use business models. The report states that the accelerated adoption of electric and shared vehicles could save USD 60 billion in diesel and petrol cost and cut down as much as 1 giga tonne of carbon emissions for India by 2030.

"The battery swapping policy I feel is not appropriate for the country because it is a very difficult thing. That is not going to be possible in the country,'' Gadkari, said at the ``smart mobility'' conference organised by apex business chamber Ficci. The minister said he had told Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant in formal discussions on the issue, that the idea is not viable and should be scrapped. Gadkari made a strong case for the London transport model in the country, particularly Delhi, saying there are nine transporters in the British capital that take care of public transport. He termed the model as highly successful with an intelligent transport system.

Given the high levels of pollution in Delhi and other places, electric vehicles for public transport besides vehicles on biofuel are the need of the hour and the government is working on charging infrastructure, the minister said.

He asserted that this mode of transport will check pollution as the 22 per cent annual growth in the automobile sector requires one additional lane of highway every third year at a cost of Rs 80,000 crore, which is not viable. He reeled out statistics, saying his constituency Nagpur has already 200 electric taxis running while another 1,000 will be added by December. There are already 20 charging stations in the city while another three are being set up that can charge a battery in 15 minutes flat.

The cost of lithium ion batteries has already been come down by as much as 40 per cent and mass production could lead to further reduction in prices, Gadkari pointed out. There are 12 manufacturers of lithium ion battery. GADKARI is set to hold discussions with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for electric vehicles in the capital to be used mostly for public transport. One estimate puts Delhi's requirement at 10,000 such buses.

Terming smart mobility a million dollar question in the country, the minister said bikes on flex fuel are set to be rolled out here next month. He stressed the need for promoting bio fuel to combat pollution, highlighting the need for cost-effective, pollution free and indigenous system to deal with it. The petroleum ministry is working on a Cabinet note on manufacturing second generation ethanol from rice and wheat straw and a policy on checking crop burning is likely in a month, he added. He also said the Eastern Peripheral Expressway, which will be inaugurated in January, will reduce 50 per cent vehicular traffic on Delhi roads.

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