The Indian government is considering a complete ban on diesel-powered four-wheelers to combat air pollution in the country. According to the Energy Transition Advisory Committee’s recent report, diesel-powered four-wheelers should be phased out by 2027 in all cities with a million-plus population. Last year, as many as 39 Indian cities featured on IQAir’s annual list of the world’s 50 most polluted cities.
To reduce India’s air pollution, the Energy Transition Advisory Committee has also recommended doubling the share of grid power in the national energy basket to 40% by 2035. Diesel accounts for about two-fifths of refined fuel consumption in India with 80% of that being used in the transport sector. The country aims at producing 40% of its electricity from renewables to achieve its 2070 net zero goal.
The committee has also suggested that the government should create a high-powered group of ministers overseeing petroleum, coal, power, and renewables to coordinate with all stakeholders and facilitate the transition towards green alternative fuels. It is widely believed that the direction for surface transport will be towards electric vehicles in the future.
The Energy Transition Advisory Committee has further recommended opening new registrations of delivery vehicles for only EVs until 2024. If implemented, 75% of such vehicles could be electric in all million-plus cities in the next ten years. This advisory committee, led by former petroleum secretary Tarun Kapoor, includes executives from state-run oil companies. It further suggested for higher use railways and gas-powered trucks for the movement of cargo. The country’s railway network is expected to be fully electric in two to three years.
India was the world’s eighth most polluted country last year, according to the IQAir World Air Quality Report. The country recorded PM 2.5 levels of 53.3 micrograms/cubic metre, over ten times the World Health Organisation’s safe limit. To tackle the worsening air pollution, the central government is promoting the use of clean alternative fuels such as bio-CNG, methanol, electricity, bio-diesel, LNG, H-CNG, and hydrogen fuel cells. The panel’s report said the government should consider “targeted extension” of incentives given under Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric and Hybrid Vehicles scheme (FAME) to beyond March 31 to boost electric vehicle use in the country.
To address air pollution in Delhi, the government imposed a temporary ban on BS-III petrol and BS-IV diesel four-wheelers in January, under the Stage III of the anti-pollution Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP). By taking these steps, the Indian government hopes to reduce the country’s air pollution levels and promote the use of clean, sustainable fuels.