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Minister comes down heavily on petrol and diesel engine driven cars; switch over to electric soon

The Road transport ministry is preparing a cabinet note to facilitate the use of electric vehicles for both public and private transport Union Minister Gadkari said today. The cost of batteries is coming down rapidly and the automobile industry should seize the opportunity to turn electric.

The Minister said such a mass transfer to electric driven vehicles will help to reduce the import bill of Petroleum products besides controlling excessive pollution in urban cities.

The Minister said he wants the pace of car sales in India to slow down as growth in vehicle sales, particularly those running on diesel, is choking roads and causing increased pollution.

"You may not like it, but I wish it from my heart that your growth should be less. If this growth continues, I will need to add one more lane to national highways, which will cost a whopping Rs 80,000 crore," Gadkari told stunned representatives of the car industry.

He was speaking at an event called by lobby group Siam to work out sustainable growth programmes for the automobile industry. Petrol and diesel vehicles will need to make way for electric powertrains and engines running on other fuel variants such as ethanol and biofuels, road transport minister Nitin Gadkari said on Thursday.

"I am going to do it, whether you like it or not. I will bulldoze. We will take the makers of petrol/diesel engine vehicles to task, Gadkari said.

Gadkari, speaking in line with the government's larger plan to have only electric vehicles in India by 2030, advised the industry to "innovate, research and work on new technologies" to find alternative transport solutions. "Come to public transport. You can bring solutions through diversification."

Citing an example, the minister said car usage has seen a rapid rise. "Even my chef comes in a car. There are too many cars, which is also leading to parking problems. I think the car industry should also go in for finding parking solutions, and look at an integrated approach."

To cut down on use of cars, especially in smaller towns, the minister said the government is planning to come out with a platform or an app - on the lines of Uber and Ola - that would facilitate the use of two-wheelers as a taxi.

"If only one person needs to travel, why should he use a car?" Gadkari was scathing on the increasing sale of diesel and petrol cars, saying they were leading to a hefty import bill as well as contributing to growing pollution on the roads.

"I want the import bill and pollution to be reduced. These are big problems," Gadkari said, adding that "we need to move towards alternative fuels" such as ethanol. "The government has decided to start 15 industries for second-generation ethanol. Ethanol can easily be produced from agro-based cotton straw, wheat straw, rice straw, bagass and bamboo. Alternative fuel is import substitute, cost effective and pollution free," Gadkari added.

The minister said that the industry should increasingly focus on electric vehicles and added that cost of batteries has also been coming down.

"A Cabinet note is being prepared that will facilitate the use of electric vehicles," Gadkari said, seeking the launch of electric bikes, buses and cars.

Hinting that Siam has been trying to go slow on transition towards cleaner fuels, Gadkari said, "I told my officials that you are influenced by Siam. I asked them to get consultants and introduce European and US standards, right from fuel to auto engineers."

The minister said the industry should dedicate a part of its profits towards research on finding out "cost-effective import substitutes and pollution-free technologies" and methodologies.


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