Millennium Post

Leap to sustainability

Leap to sustainability

The switch to cleaner fuel which competes with European standards is a good move. The fact that India leapfrogged from Bharat Stage IV to BS-VI grades is a sound outcome of sustainable policymaking. It is no-brainer that the world today is presented with a necessity to shift to cleaner fuel. Cleaner, here, is relative as by the standards of climate change we're experiencing coupled with local air pollution choking down iconic urban centres of the world, there are different levels of clean fuel to upgrade to. The second decade of the 21st Century has opened the policy deliberation on a path to sustainable alternatives in every sphere. We are well aware of the challenges in front of us. Our innovation in technology has to steer us towards the environment-friendly options as we get rid of traditional processes that have smoked a terribly large amount of fossil fuel in the planet's atmosphere. Shifting to BS-VI is definitely a leap for India. It has made headways in the transition to cleaner fuel. Back in 2010, India had BS-III fuel which had a sulphur content of 350 ppm. It made strides to move to BS-IV fuel which had a sulphur content of 50 ppm after seven long years. From there to BS-VI in three years is commendable. It is rather commendable of Delhi and adjoining towns which were originally designated to switch to BS-VI by April 2019 but instead switched in April 2018 itself. Delhi's faster adaptability of BS-VI is largely due to the city's poor air quality. Delhi chokes in winters. AQI during alarming levels passes the 1000 mark that is essentially very unhealthy. The dismal state of Delhi during its poor air days demands a strict remedy. To this concern, India's bid to achieve electrification of vehicles is the talk of the 2020s. We are no stranger to the electric vehicle infrastructure. Electric buses are said to be on Delhi roads as early as by April 2020. Delhi's CNG bus network has been extremely pivotal in controlling the early degradation that the city faced back in the 1990s. Yet, the introduction of electric buses will only promote the electric infrastructure, thereby influencing people to switch to sustainable alternatives. BS-VI fuel is going to bring down the sulphur content to a record low of just 10 ppm, equivalent to CNG in emission standards, which will indeed be a big shift for sensitive urban spheres such as Delhi. The transition to cleaner fuel will allow cities cleaner air as other related policy decisions look to meet the environmental challenges. A comprehensive effort would be required to remedy Delhi's fast deteriorating air quality. BS-VI fuel is perhaps one step in the ladder. Given the absolute need for transportation, it is imperative that we take measures towards a cleaner version of the one. Electrification of transportation, if timely achieved, will put India at a vantage position because of having overcome the pollution problem alongside cutting huge oil import costs. To be fair, the cost for rapid electrification of transport in India would essentially eat up savings from the fall in oil imports. But if that is possible, it should be pursued.

Heading towards sustainable alternatives is not an option. With time, it is imminent for survival. Humankind through expansive industrial ages has had a huge impact on the Earth's atmosphere. Climate change is a household discussion for the same reason. However hard maybe the shift and to whichever extent it causes difficulty, a transition to renewable sources of energy remains the objective. BS-VI shift from April is only a small step towards that objective. State machinery is empowered to carry out such transition. We have a splendid example in our Asian neighbour and world powerhouse, China. The past decade has seen the Chinese emerge as global leader in electric car sales with an investment of $60 billion. The impressive attention that it gave to its electric aspirations speaks for the meticulous decisions to promote electric vehicle and sideline petrol and diesel. Tax subsidies on e-vehicle purchase and strict regulation of petrol and diesel vehicles are some of the measures that even India is becoming familiar with. Under the Rs 10,000-crore FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid) and Electric Vehicles) scheme, subsidy on EVs are given to three- and four-wheelers for commercial and fleet applications as well as personal applications only for two-wheelers. Extending the same to four-wheelers would be an ideal start to promote electric vehicles in India. If the government so wishes, it can adopt a staunch policy towards rapid electrification that will serve Indian cities in great measure while placing India alongside West powers in terms of sustainability. The NDA government's successful electrification drive in the country is a testimony to the capacity of development at the grassroots. India only needs improvement in last-mile connectivity and we are one strong decision away from taking a giant leap of sustainability.

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