All Delhi Govt Vehicles to Switch to EVs Within 6 Months. A Panacea for Air Pollution?

Apart from the challenges in recycling of lithium-ion batteries, EVs alone cannot address the issue of air pollution if coal continues to be part of our energy policy.

New Delhi: The Delhi government has ordered all the departments to use only electric vehicles (EVs), as part of its ‘Switch Delhi’ campaign’, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said. The transition to EVs will be done within the next six months, he added.

The government, which has over 2,000 cars in its fleet, hopes its decision will inspire other cities in the country and the world to tackle the issues of pollution and climate change with the urgency they deserve, he said.

The announcement came a day after the Aam Aadmi Party-led government launched a campaign, ‘Switch Delhi’, to encourage private vehicle owners to take a pledge to shift to electric vehicles and install a charging point within their premises in the next three years.

“It’s history! Driven by the vision of CM @ArvindKejriwal to make Delhi the ‘Electric Vehicle capital’, Delhi govt today became the 1st in the world, not just India, to mandate its entire hired car fleet to switch to electric WITHIN a deadline- 6 mths. @SwitchDelhi begins at home,” Sisodia tweeted.

Electric vehicle policy

The Delhi government had in August last year launched an electric vehicle policy to tackle the problem of air pollution. Under the policy, it promised to waive registration fee, road tax and provide an incentive of up to Rs 1.5 lakh for new cars in the national capital.

Under Delhi’s EV policy, 12 four-wheeler models are available and eligible for purchase and scrapping incentives.

Sisodia hoped that using Delhi as an example, cities of the world would ensure that using electric vehicles is an important agenda in the fight to curb pollution.

“It is necessary to focus on the challenges related to a sustainable environment. The Delhi government has prioritised the issue of curbing environmental distress along with its other major agenda items,” he aid.

Sisodia pinned faith on the idea that the decision of switching to electric vehicles by all departments of the Delhi government will be a key step in encouraging more sustainable practices in the national capital and thereby curbing environmental distresses such as pollution.

Also read: The Importance of Selling Electric Vehicles and Their Batteries Separately

The transport department of Delhi will be the nodal department to monitor the progress of the transition from existing diesel or petrol vehicle fleet to EVs. It will also be necessary for all departments to produce monthly action reports on the transition to EVs by the 5th of every month to the nodal department.

‘Switch Delhi’ is an eight-week mass awareness campaign by the Delhi government to sensitize each and every Delhiite about the benefits of switching to EVs as well as to make them aware of the incentives and infrastructure being developed under Delhi’s EV policy.

The campaign aims at informing, encouraging, and motivating each and every person in Delhi to switch from polluting vehicles to zero-emission electric vehicles. While the first two weeks of the campaign have focused on promoting two- and three-wheeler owners to switch to EVs, the third week targets four-wheeler vehicle owners to adopt EVs.

EVs – a panacea for air pollution?

The electric vehicle market is expected to grow significantly in the next decade, supplementing the growth of lithium-ion batteries. But what will happen to used batteries?

According to JMK Research estimates, the lithium-ion battery market in India is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35.5% to reach 132 gigawatt hours (GWh) by 2030.

However, the market of recycling of lithium-ion batteries is negligible in India at the moment. According to reports, industrial recycling of li-ion batteries is done mainly in European Union and China, with the market still in its infancy.

According to ETAuto, the cost of recycling a lithium-ion battery in India is about Rs 90-100/ kg. Apart from high cost, there are other issues such as the safety risks related to collection, transport and storage with managing waste lithium batteries.

So it is not clear how prepared is India to handle the glut of lithium-ion batteries in the coming decade.

Also, electric vehicles alone cannot address the issue of air pollution if coal continues to be part of our energy policy.

A Greenpeace report published in 2019 revealed that India accounts for seven of the ten most polluted cities in the world, with Gurugram topping the list, followed by Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Noida, in the top ten of the list.

According to The Wire Science, a researcher from ETH Zurich calculated the undesirable side-effects of 7,861 coal power plants around the world and concluded that coal plants in India take the highest toll in the world when it came to health.

Down to Earth in its report quoted an analysis by Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) that showed 33.6% of Delhi’s total power needs come from coal-based thermal power plants that don’t follow emission norms.

(With inputs from PTI)