It is no more a question of whether India would meet its commitment to check greenhouse emissions by 2030. In its pledges, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), India has said it will reduce the emissions intensity of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 45% by 2030. This is a measure of the amount of greenhouse gas emitted per unit of economic activity. The question, therefore, is how the government plans to meet its targets.
In an interview with Amit Mukherjee, Minister of Heavy Industries Mahendra Nath Pandey says the government has set a target to electrify its own fleet of vehicles to reduce emissions. It is also formulating and implementing electrifying schemes for public transportation.
How are you and your ministry contributing towards transitions that India is going through?
One of the world’s current disruptive storms triggering a transition is climate change, which has underscored the need to shift towards a sustainable, clean emission-free environment. While the government has set a target to electrify its own fleet to reduce emissions, it is also formulating and implementing electrifying schemes for the public transportation process. Under our ministry’s Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (FAME)-II scheme — a flagship programme for electric vehicle (EV) adoption — besides other class of EV, we are deploying electric buses across cities to switch to exhaust-free transportation and at the same time decongest the roads with mass transit facilities.
Are subsidies involved in various government initiatives?
With a budgetary allocation of Rs 10,000 crore (US$ 1.3 billion) under FAME-II, we are extending the green subsidy to 1 million e-two-wheelers, 0.5 million to e-three-wheelers, 55,000 e-passenger vehicles and 7,000 e-buses. As of November 7, over 6.1 lakh vehicles have been provided subsidy for e-2-wheelers. While under FAME-II, we are already working on EV adoptions in 34 states and one UT, we are now turning our focus on Jammu and Kashmir with a focus on charging infrastructure and public transport.
What are the specific targets your ministry has fixed to make electric mobility more popular?
The government has set targets for EV sales penetration with 30% of private cars, 70% of commercial cars, 40% of buses and 80% of two and 3 wheelers by 2030 for a cleaner future. We are looking at this as a huge opportunity to become an EV hub. We are already supporting the e-mobility ecosystem by creating a supportive manufacturing environment. The aim is to bring the cost of EVs down by almost 40% through ‘Make in India’ mission by reducing imports. Through flagship schemes like FAME II, Advanced Chemistry Cell (ACC) programme and Production Linked Incentive (PLI) schemes for automobile and auto components, we are accelerating migration to e-mobility by aiming to reduce EV costs.
How do these schemes contribute to Atmanirbhar Bharat?
Our focus is totally on Atmanirbhar. Apart from the large-scale push for manufacturing by us under FAME-II, the most significant step has been the assembly, installation and maintenance set-up of 76-mm guns for the Indian Navy. BHEL, our country’s top government-owned energy production equipment maker, has already supplied 45 guns to the Navy. Besides, we are pro BHEL, which has recently turned into a profit-making entity in the second quarter of 2022-23. It has made forays into high-speed mobility and is providing propulsion technology equipment for Vande Bharat trains. Besides, it is producing indigenously developed air-cooled separators, heavy water reactors for nuclear plants, heavy duty gas generators for the power sector and setting up solar power plants.
Infrastructure is a big issue for e-mobility. How do you propose to resolve it?
We are working to make the charging infrastructure robust to support EV growth. There are over 1,800 stations currently, which we plan to increase in view of a surge in EV sales. Besides imported charges, BHEL has developed normal chargers for EVs. We are working closely with the Indian Automotive Research Institute (IARI), a government research wing, for development of “express” chargers. In fact, the testing of these is at the final stage. We are in talks with more than 22,000 fuel stations for space sharing where the EV chargers would be deployed.
The government is putting a lot of emphasis on increasing energy output and achieving adequate self-reliance levels…
In view of situations arising out of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, especially in the energy sector that is witnessing turbulence worldwide, the need to depend on thermal power plants has been revived and the government is taking a long-term view. While we continue to work on renewables and cleaner energy sources like solar and wind, the alternative use of energy resources like coal through diversification is the new focus. After all, we want to be ahead and secure ourselves in terms of India’s energy needs. While India is endowed with 344 billion tonnes (BT) of coal resources, producing syngas through surface coal gasification (SCG) for energy needs appears to be a safe, viable option.