Activist state

State budget: Greens say no to the promotion of coal-based electric vehicles

By Kaushik Bhattacharya:

Despite the positive reception of the government’s stance on environment-related issues, campaigners and experts said more funds are needed for environmental conservation

Although the government of Maharashtra in its 2022-23 budget has emphasized its electric vehicle (EV) policy, green activists and experts have claimed that the electric vehicle policy will only succeed when the government would transform electricity generation for electric vehicles from coal. solar powered. Giving clean energy a boost, the Maharashtra government in its recent budget has emphasized its electric vehicle policy, with targets to increase the share of electric vehicles to 10% in new vehicle registrations by 2025 and the share of public transport in major cities at 25%. The state has also targeted the construction of 5,000 charging facilities by 2025. In addition, capital financial assistance will be provided for 3,000 new environmentally friendly buses and for the upgrading of 103 bus stations at the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC). While Rs 253 crore was allocated for the environment, Rs 150 crore was given for the conservation of 23 rivers in the state. In addition, a school curriculum on environmental subjects will be prepared for students in grades 1 to 8 to raise awareness about the environment and climate change.

“This is the first time that environmental sustainability issues have been addressed in the budget. We welcome this decision. Implementation on the ground will be key,” Leena Buddhe, director of the Center for Sustainable Development (CFSD) told The Hitavada. “The government should emphasize phasing out coal-fired power generation plants for electric vehicle policy. In a place like Nagpur, the introduction of electric buses should be carefully thought out as there will be more traffic jams and no parking spaces,” said. Buddhe “Talking about raising young minds by bringing this into the program will definitely help to preserve the environment,” Buddhe added.

Speaking about the allocation of funds for river conservation, she said, “It is very important and a good first step. But this will require an integrated approach to pollution mitigation and the involvement of different stakeholders. More funds would be needed for river conservation, the expert said. Dr Sheetal Choudhary, an environmental and tree expert, said: “The government is taking many initiatives towards environmental protection and sustainable development. The allocation of Rs 253 crore for the environment is a welcome move. Initiating environmental and climate change education at school will certainly have a positive impact on young minds, Dr Choudhary said. “It is interesting to note that the pollution of rivers also has a weight in this budget. Although 150 crore seems less for the conservation of 23 rivers. The government’s commitment to the paradigm shift towards renewable energy is well reflected in the budget, but charging stations for electric vehicles must run on solar power instead of coal power, added Dr. Choudhary. Green activist Anasuya Kale Chhabrani said: “Taxation of electric vehicles and batteries used in electric vehicles should be removed to make them more affordable. Some incentives on charging tariffs, such as a subsidy or a provision for subsidizing electricity costs for charging EVs in residences, should be granted to promote their use.

A rebate will be given and the use of solar panels will be made mandatory for EV users to recharge their batteries to reduce the consumption of coal-generated electricity, Kale added. Prachi Mahurkar, Ecologist, Punarnava Ecological Services, said: “There are 22 specific (and weighted) tasks assigned to various rural and urban local bodies, including planting native trees, setting up adequate waste sorting, treatment and composting, promotion of non-motorized transport. and rainwater harvesting, among others. The funds allocated are not at all sufficient to achieve the objectives. “Conservation of rivers should not require a lot of funds, if done in an ecological way, but the budget is still not enough,” Mahurkar added. Sudhir Paliwa, Head of Vidarbha Environment Action Group, said: “The Maharashtra government allocating Rs 253 crore is a welcome move, but this money should be spent on repairing the damage already done to the environment. “Electric vehicles should only be promoted if solar charging stations are installed, there is no point in charging electric vehicles with coal-based power. Otherwise, pollution in cities like Nagpur and Chandrapur will grow significantly at the expense of reduced pollution in Mumbai and Pune,” Paliwal said.