Nitin Gadkari Envisions To Take Petrol & Diesel Vehicles Off The Indian Roads, But Is It Possible?

Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways has stated that it his vision to take petrol and diesel vehicles off the Indian roads. Well it is great for a minister to think for the better for his country and his people but it it really possible? Join us as we dig deeper into this matter and try to answer if it is even possible in India.
Nitin Gadkari Envisions To Take Petrol & Diesel Vehicles Off The Indian Roads, But Is It Possible?

Nitin Gadkari Envisions To Take Petrol & Diesel Vehicles Off The Indian Roads, But Is It Possible? (image for rerpesentation)

Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) of India has yet again reiterated on the reducing reliance on oil imports in India. Speaking to a news agency he has stated that he envisions taking petrol and diesel powered vehicles off the roads of India. According to the minister this approach will serve multiple purposes. Oil accounts for one of the biggest imports for India and reducing the dependence of fossil based fuels that are imported will help India a lot, in economic terms. On the other hand many cities in India are battling severe air pollution for which tailpipe emissions from vehicles are often blamed. So moving from fossil based fuels to cleaner and more sustainable mobility solutions will help India in the long run. It will also align with the global net zero goals.
The report highlights the minister's comment when asked if it was possible to take petrol and diesel vehicles off the the Indian roads, to which Gadkari replied, "One hundred percent, it is difficult but not impossible. This is my vision. I cannot give you a date and year for this transformation to take place as it is very difficult. This is difficult but not impossible".
He supported his statement with an example saying, “I roam around in a car that runs on hydrogen. You can see electric cars in every other household. People who used to say this was impossible, have changed their views now and started believing in what I have been saying for the last 20 years".
Gadkari has been actively playing a major role in shaping the modern road infrastructure in the country with the development of new highways and expressways along with redevelopment of existing ones. He has also been actively involved in shaping policies for mobility and transportation. He has on several occasions advocated on reducing oil imports and increasing reliance on sustainable and renewable energy sources like ethanol, ethanol blending, biodiesel and green hydrogen for catering to the mobility sector.
The India government has outlined its vision of making India the middle east for green hydrogen and its technology, it has even put a 'Green Hydrogen Mission' in place. The government in India is pushing for the use of green hydrogen for mobility.
"Tatas and Ashok Leyland have introduced trucks that run on hydrogen. There are trucks that run on LNG/CNG. There are 350 factories across the country of bio-CNG," Gadkari added. He also expressed that GST on electric & hybrid vehicles should be reduced.
While all this might seem quite flowery and dreamy but there is another side to this as well. While it is important to reduce tailpipe emissions of vehicles in India, it is important to consider all facts before coming to a conclusion.
We too strongly advocate green and clean mobility but at the same time it is essential to see all the sides of the coin and its peripherals . Looking at facts one has to acknowledge the fact that the petrol and diesel vehicles that we see today are highly sophisticated pieces of engineering that have evolved for over a century to function with minimal flaws. On the other hand the new mobility technologies are just taking shape and are currently not at par with their petrol and diesel counterparts.
Most EVs, hybrids and most of the other clean mobility vehicles cause the majority of the pollution during their manufacturing process in comparison to fossil fuel based ICE vehicles that cause pollution that is spread over the time of its operation.
Modern clean mobility solutions like EVs and hybrids require large amounts of batteries made up of rare earth elements which are scarce and require mining which is also a very polluting affair. While most first world countries are waving EVs in the face of the world asking with improved air quality and lower tailpipe emissions are actually exporting the pollution to these countries where these elements are being mined and let’s not even get into labour laws & human rights in these places.
Another important aspect to consider is that EVs are powered by electricity and India is heavily dependent on coal for electricity so using an EV in India is considerably more polluting, in comparison to a place where there is clean electricity. Also India doesn’t have uninterrupted 24 hour electricity supply even in major metropolitans, so that is another major challenge with EVs in the Indian environment.
There is a global slowdown in EV demand! Yes this is a well known fact that EV have a high initial cost and a lot of shortcomings and this is contributing to the fall in demand for EVs globally. On the other hand petrol and diesel vehicles in India are Stage 2 BS6 compliant for emissions. Honestly even if half of the amount of money that has been invested in development of new technologies was spent in making ICE petrol and diesels vehicles for zero-tailpipe emissions this story could very well have been quite different.
While the ever optimistic minister envisions taking the petrol and diesel vehicles off the roads in India it is quintessential to realise that India is not ready for these modern vehicles yet for a large-scale adoption.
However one very interesting clean mobility technology that has major potential is the use of hydrogen internal combustion engine (H2ICE) vehicles. While this technology is new too but it is closest to the existing ICE petrol and diesel vehicles and it has near zero/zero tailpipe. India too is investing and promoting the H2ICE and HFCEVs a lot but its large scale application is still in the distant future. So considering all alternatives CNG, ethanol blended petrol, pure ethanol and biodiesel are currently the most viable options for reducing vehicular emissions.
(With interview inputs from PTI)
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