SC seeks ministry's reply on conversion of public transport vehicles into EVs

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday sought a reply from the Union Road Transport Ministry on conversion of more public transport vehicles into cleaner electric vehicles, as decided in a declared policy in 2012 to do so in a phased manner.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Sharad Bobde sought the reply within four weeks. It also declared to form a panel to suggest measures on alternate fuels, including electric vehicles, for public transport as part of the mass mobility.

It was reacting on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) on the tardy progress in the past eight years in the policy that also mandated charging stations in all public buildings.

The court asked the ministry to consider the cleaner mode of transport in the public space in view of the rising pollution and other climatic issues.

Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, said the scheme was formulated to curb air pollution and restrict carbon emission, which has been creating the problem of global warming.

In March last year, the apex court had directed the Centre to apprise it of the steps taken for the implementation of the scheme.

EVs are preferred technology to alleviate the effects of pollution and intervention of judiciary was necessary to protect citizens' fundamental rights.

The National Electric Mobility Mission Plan, 2020 (NEMMP-2020) of the Ministry of Heavy Industries was devised in 2015 to promote and incentivise electric vehicles.

The plea 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 pertaining to "demand Creation, creation of requisite charging Infrastructure."

The Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid and) Electric Vehicles in India scheme (FAME India), meant for implementing the policy, has woefully failed in "adopting the recommendations of NEMMP-2020," the PIL said.

It claimed that instead of achieving a target of 6-7 millions sales of such hybrid vehicles by 2020, only 0.263 million electric vehicles have been adopted in India.

The plea said the thrust of the policy was to allow hybrid and electric vehicles to become the first choice for the purchasers so that these vehicles could replace the conventional vehicles and thus reduce liquid fuel consumption.

The lack of effort on the part of enforcement agencies and inadequate laws have resulted into spiralling pollution levels and the air quality is steadily decreasing and no effective steps have been taken by the administration in this behalf, it alleged.

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