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SC seeks Centre's reply on PIL for converting public transport, govt vehicles into electric ones

SC seeks Centre's reply on PIL for converting public transport, govt vehicles into electric ones

The Supreme Court Friday sought the Centre's reply on a PIL seeking implementation of the National E-Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP), 2020 which recommended gradual conversion all public transport and government vehicles into electric vehicles (EVs) to curb air pollution. A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde decided to make the Ministry of Surface Transport and Highways and the minister concerned parties to the petition and listed it for hearing after four weeks.

The PIL alleged that the citizens' rights to health and clean environment under the Constitution are being "violated due to governmental apathy" in mitigating the impact of climate change and air pollution "partly attributable to emissions from vehicles that burn fossil fuels". The bench, which also comprised Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant, took note of the PIL filed by NGOs, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), Common Cause and Sita Ram Jindal Founndation.

Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGOs, said the government in 2012 had come out with the NEMMP, which contained several recommendations for adoption of EVs including that "government fleets and public transportation should be mandated to switch to Electric Vehicles". The plan suggested subsidies for purchase of EVs as also tax and policy incentives, besides providing for the "requisite charging infrastructure by mandating fast and normal charging points in apartment buildings, parking lots, government offices, malls etc".

The government has not been able to implement the scheme successfully, Bhushan said. The plea said that to implement the plan, the government had promulgated the FAME-India Scheme in 2015 and 2019 which provided for granting subsidies to consumers. However, the efforts failed to get requisite results.

The government had set a "modest target of sale of 7 million Electric Vehicles under its 2012 NEMMP plan, but only 0.263 million vehicles have been sold as of January, 2019, showing a total failure of that scheme", the plea said. It also said that the NEMMP called for an investment of Rs 14,500 crore from the government to kick start demand and creation of charging infrastructure, but in December, 2018, it "informed parliament that it had thus far allocated less than 600 crore over a period of 7 years towards the entire scheme".

The plea has sought a direction to the Centre "to adopt and implement the recommendations made under NEMMP-2020 and those of Niti Aayog in its Zero Emission Vehicles policy framework". It also sought a direction to the Centre to provide "demand side incentives to the consumers to bridge the gap in initial cost of acquisition, creating requisite charging infrastructure for buses at bus depots, creating requisite charging infrastructure in appropriate densities in the cities, mandating Charging Infrastructure in basement of Apartments, National Highways, Parking Spaces etc."

The government's failure to implement these plans is the direct cause for rise in air pollution levels that have turned our cities into virtual "gas chambers" having severe negative health impacts on the lives of citizens and especially those of our children, it said. "The burning of fossil fuels has been a serious problem in the country... Fossil fuels are finite and the product of millions of years of vegetative matter sequestration inside the earth. However we have consumed the bulk of natural wealth accumulated over millions of years in a span of just over a 100 years," the plea said.

This has led to a rapid build up of Carbon and related green house gases into the atmosphere leading global warming, climate change, and air pollution, it said. The plea referred to the success achieved by countries like USA and Japan in promoting EVs.

In India, transport vehicles are one of the biggest consumers of fossil fuels and more than 99.9 per cent of such vehicles are based on the fossil fuels, it said. "This causes a variety of problems such as emission of Green House Gases leading to Global Warming and Climate Change, emission of particulate matters such as PM 2.5 that cause pollution and leave a lasting impact on the health of citizens," it said.

The EVs needed to be promoted in the country in the wake of India's commitment to reduce Green House Gas emissions by 33 to 35 per cent from 2005 levels under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the plea said.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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