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Govt calls for green vehicles

Govt calls for green vehicles
Known as one of the best performers in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Cabinet, Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, means what he says. And, when he said at an automobile manufacturers' gathering that "Petrol, diesel banaane walon kaa band-baajaa bajaanaa hai (We will take the makers of petrol/diesel engine vehicles to task)", it meant a lot! Clearing the government's stance on reducing the pace of car sales in India, Gadkari said that now the time has come to move towards less-polluting transportation options. Claiming that the cabinet note on electric vehicles is already on the cards; the automobile industry must innovate, research and work on vehicles utilising alternative fuels. He virtually stunned the representatives of the automobile industry, saying, "You may not like it, but I wish it from my heart that your growth is reduced. If this growth continues, I will need to add one more lane to the national highways, which will cost a whopping Rs 80,000 crore." To cut down on the use of cars, particularly 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. Accusing the frequent four-wheeler users of leading to a hefty import bill and contributing to growing pollution on the roads, he stressed on reducing the import bill in controlling fuel usage and pollution. "The government has decided to kick off as many as 15 industries for second-generation ethanol as it can easily be produced from agro-based cotton straw, wheat straw, rice straw, bagass, and bamboo," he said and added that the industry should dedicate a part of its profits towards research on innovating cost-effective import alternatives and pollution-free technologies. However, the government's constant policy changes appear to be a shocker to the auto industry. Though it is imperative to adopt the correct approach to improve India's standing in the global climate pecking order, reduce our fuel import bill and make transportation least polluting across the country, it cannot be achieved by bulldozing a huge manufacturing industry without providing for its needs to achieve this grand goal. In fact, the government should first encourage feasibility of these cars by meting out adequate policy in this connection. Besides promoting battery production, the government must also focus on increasing the other auxiliary infrastructure like charging stations at a shorter distance. The government also needs to discuss for improving the inadequate public transport system for a better and sustainable solution to traffic and pollution blues. No doubt, the government has recently taken some hard steps to control the pollution. After deciding to move up to the toughest emission standards of BS-VI from BS-IV by 2020, two years early and skipping an intermediate level, heavier tax-slots were determined for large cars and SUVs under GST. It may appear to be foxing the automobile industry to a certain extent, but the time has come for the stakeholders to lead from the front – if the government really plans to get rid of the traffic blues of global warming due to smoke-billowing vehicles.

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