The potential social cost of a 100% electric vehicle vision: 1.5 million jobs

It is a laudable objective to want to reduce pollution when four of the top 10 most polluting cities are in India. On the back of the success achieved in ensuring better electricity generation coupled with the need to have paying customers for this electricity, the government has readied a plan to install charging infrastructure for electric cars. If this plan works, it will over time reduce the need for diesel and petrol in the transport sector. It logically follows that the import bill for crude oil will also come down, which will free up financial resources for the government.

However, if the government is really keen on reducing pollution, they must make a beginning by ordering the scrapping of pre-BS (Bharat Stage) and BS 1, 2 and 3 vehicles. They are finding it difficult to do this. For those who have paid a lifetime tax on their vehicles, to have their vehicles suddenly scrapped will be difficult to swallow. Is it practical for the government to come up with a scheme where they replace these old vehicles that run on polluting fuel with electric vehicles (EVs)? Will there be a phased programme for the replacement of such vehicles and will the government bear a part of the cost of such scrapping and replacement? By levying punitive taxes, including a cess on modern cars that are the least polluting, the government is defeating a key national objective of reducing pollution. The removal of old vehicles will also reduce oil consumption. EVs, by the government’s own estimates, will be all pervasive only by 2030. In the interim, assuming that the vehicle scrap page policy sees the light of day, the transportation scene will be dominated by BS 4 and BS 6 vehicles. The point being made here is that while the industry is in sync with the objective of the government in reducing pollution and actively supports it, there are several on-the-ground realities that need to be reckoned with.

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