Electric vehicles are set to get a major push from Narendra Modi government with Niti Aayog preparing a Cabinet note on ways to incentivise zero-emission transport, Union minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari told News18.
In an exclusive message to congratulate the nominees of the first News18.com Tech and Auto Awards, Gadkari said electric vehicles are need of the hour but India doesn’t need self-driving cars at this juncture when millions of Indians earn their livelihood through driving.
“Electric vehicle is the future. NITI Aayog will soon submit a Cabinet note on electric vehicles, after which the industry can expect more concessions,” Gadkari said.
Congratulating Indian automakers for earning a brand name in global markets, Gadkari said the moment has come when the industry should lead with innovations in electric vehicles space. He said the government will support the industry by enabling an ecosystem of charging stations to easy compliance.
Major carmakers have recently ramped up their EV plans with Mahindra & Mahindra entering a partnership with Uber India to roll out electric cabs and Suzuki partnering with Toyota to have cost-effective EVs on Indian roads by 2020.
On self-driving cars, the minister said, “India has a shortage of 22 lakh drivers. Driving provides employment to crores of people. It will not be appropriate for us to have self-driving cars in the present scenario.”
Gadkari said the auto companies should think big in India with highway construction expanding at historic high of 28-km per day. India plans to construct 40-km highway a day by mid-next year.
On the winter smog and traffic snarls in Delhi, Gadkari said, “NCR will become congestion-free within a year. The Easterly bypass around NCR will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Modi before 26 January 2018. The 14-lane Meerut Expressway will be ready by December next year.”
When quizzed about the rising number of road accidents in India, Gadkari said over 800 accident prone areas had been identified and his ministry was working 24x7 to find engineering-led solutions.
The new Motor Vehicles Act, which is being seen as a major reform to promote transparency and efficiency, Gadkari said the government is hopeful of getting the Bill cleared in the Rajya Sabha during the upcoming Winter Session. The new law also talks about collaborations between the Center and the states to reduce road accidents.
Calling for a national push towards cleaner, cheaper and indigenous fuels, the minister said India is a coal-surplus country but is still import dependent and has a negligible amount of domestic gas. “From coal, we can make methanol which can be used as Dimethyl Ether (DME). Using DME, the cost of liquefied petroleum gas can be reduced by Rs 10 per kg. Methanol can also be used to run cars.”